Abstract for Creating Comics, Creative Comics 2020: DIY Digital Comics Without Drawing: Craft, Collaboration and Materiality in the Digital Age 

I am delighted my paper for the Creating Comics, Creative Comics 2020- BEYOND Symposium at the University of South Wales: Cardiff Campus (Monday 6th – Tuesday 7th April 2020) has been accepted. I am looking forward to participating.

Below I share a slightly revised version my abstract.

The Blank Page (page 4), London is a real city that has been descibed as ‘unreal’. The situations, settings and characters in ‘The Blank Page’ are entirely fictitious. London is a real city that has been descibed as ‘unreal’. The situations, settings and characters in ‘The Blank Page’ are entirely fictitious.
The Blank Page, page 4 (2014)


DIY Digital Comics Without Drawing: Craft, Collaboration and Materiality in the Digital Age 

Dr Ernesto Priego, Centre for Human Computer Interaction Design, City, University of London

In this presentation I will discuss examples of the poetry, autobiographic and non-fiction comics that I have been producing through purely digital means since ca. 2006.

The usual assumption is that a precondition of comics is drawing or illustration, particularly in some traditions. For instance,  bande dessinée in French means “drawn strip”, whereas in other languages terminology refers to tone or genre (“comics”, originally referring to the content being comical), length or cultural status (“historietas”- meaning little or pseudo stories) or layout features (“quadrinhos” literally meaning little boxes, panels; “fumetti”- literally little puffs of smoke; balloons). It is interesting that in the English language, the term “fumetti” is frequently used to refer to photo comics, regardless of origin or language.

I grew up surrounded by comics and fotonovelas or photo-comics (see, for example, Priego 2011), and though this fact most have defined my experience of graphic storytelling up to a certain extent, my work making comics without drawings has been more properly inspired by the collaborative nature of, initially, the craft of DIY fanzine making (I co-founded and edited Hemofilia, a horror comics fanzine [see Trujillo 2020], when I was 15), and, later on and more recently, the Web and Internet-mediated collaboration.

I will show examples from A Life Deferred (2006-2008), The Blank Page (2014), The Strip Hay-na-ku Project (2008-2019) and stand-alone examples such as “Addressing Sylvia” (2019a) and “Salut, Notre-Dame…” (2019b) and discuss how I have repurposed writing and images created by me and others, and how that practice fits in with my long-time interest in the comics grid (the array or layout of graphic panels; the specific distribution of images on a comic book page) as a poetic force, as a space for poetic revelation (Priego and Wilkins 2018). These are comics made with computers to be shared via computers (and of course mobile devices) that nonetheless are also embedded in the tradition of DIY fanzine making that, though digitally-mediated, still aim to achieve the feel and should I say “aura” of mechanical reproduction*.

I am interested in discussing the affordances of contemporary off-the-shelf software as a continuation and transformation of material practices of cut-and-paste and détournement, as exemplified by my own attempts at graphic storytelling with digital means.


*At this stage the Benjamin citation is not really needed, is it? ;-)


Priego, E. 2008. A Life Deferred Book 1. Issu. https://issuu.com/ernestopriego/docs/alifedeferredbook1  [Accessed 23 January 2020].

Priego, E. 2011. “¡Santo!”: The Stuff of Legend. The Comics Grid blog. http://blog.comicsgrid.com/blog/c2a1santo/ [Accessed 23 January 2020].

Priego, E. 2014. The Blank Page. Everything is Connected. https://epriego.blog/tag/the-blank-page/ [Accessed 23 January 2020].

Priego, E. and Wilkins, P., 2018. The Question Concerning Comics as Technology: Gestell and Grid. The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, 8, p.16. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/cg.133 [Accessed 23 January 2020].

Priego, E. 2019a. Addressing Sylvia. figshare. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.7803530.v4. [Accessed 23 January 2020].

Priego, E. 2019b. Salut, Notre-Dame…. figshare. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.7999418. [Accessed 23 January 2020].

Priego, E. 2019c. The Strip Hay(na)ku Project. A collaborative experiment in sequential graphic poetics. California, USA: Meritage Press and L/O/C/P. ISBN 9781934299135. http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/21927/ [Accessed 23 January 2020].

Trujillo, R. 2020. HEMOFILIA, fanzine de comics y terror. 5 January 2020. https://ideacomics.blogspot.com/2020/01/hemofilia-fanzine-de-comics-y-terror.html [Accessed 23 January 2020].


Ernesto Priego is a lecturer at the Centre for Human-Computer Interaction Design, City, University of London. With a background in English Literature and Cultural Studies, he completed a PhD in Library and Information Science at the Centre for Digital Humanities, University College London, focusing on issues of comic book materiality in the digital age. In 2009 he co-founded The Comics Grid as a peer-reviewed scholarly blog. With Ernesto as Editor-in-Chief, the project was rebranded as The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship in 2013, becoming a fully-fledged peer-reviewed open access journal. The Comics Grid is now published by the Open Library of Humanities.




Questions of Access in the Digital Humanities: Data from JDSH

[On 8 August 2017, this post was selected as Editor’s Choice in Digital Humanities Now at http://digitalhumanitiesnow.org/2017/08/questions-of-access-in-the-digital-humanities-data-from-jdsh/]

[N.B. As usual, typos might still be present when you read this; this blog post is likely to be revised post-publication… thanks for understanding. This blog is a sandbox of sorts].

Para Domenico, siempre en deuda

tl;dr, scroll down to the charts

I used The Altmetric Explorer to locate any  articles from the Journal of Digital Scholarlship in the Humanities that had had any ‘mentions’ online anytime. An original dataset of 82 bibliographic entries was obtained. With the help of Joe McArthur the Open Access Button API was then employed to detect if any of the journal articles in the dataset had open access surrogates (for example, self-archived versions in institutional repositories) and if so, which content they actually provided access to. The API located 24 URLs of the 82 DOIs corresponding to each article in the dataset.

I then edited and refined the original dataset to include only the top 60 results. Each result was manually refined and cross-checked to verify the resulting links matched the correct outputs and to what kind of content they provided access to, as well as to identify the type of license and type of access of each article’s version of record.

A breakdown of the findings below:

Visualisation of numeralia from the JDSH 60 Articles Altmetric-OA Button Dataset

(Note numbers re OA Button results will not add up as there are overlaps and some results belong to categories not listed).

It must be highlighted that only one of the links located via the Open Access Button API provided access to an article’s full version.

This disciplinarily-circumscribed example from a leading journal in the field of the digital humanities provides evidence for further investigations into the effects of publishers’ embargos on the ability of institutional open access repositories to fufill their mission effectively.

The dataset was openly shared on figshare as

Priego, Ernesto (2017): A Dataset Listing the Top 60 Articles Published in the Journal of Digital Scholarship in the Humanities According to the Altmetric Explorer (search from 11 April 2017), Annotated with Corresponding License and Access Type and Results, when Available, from the Open Access Button API (search from 15 May 2017). figshare. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.5278177.v3


The Wordy Thing

Back in 2014, we suggested that “altmetrics services like the Altmetric Explorer can be an efficient method to obtain bibliographic datasets and track scholarly outputs being mentioned online in the sources curated by these services” (Priego et al 2014).  That time we used the Explorer to analyse a report obtained by searching for the term ‘digital humanities’ in the titles of outputs mentioned anytime at the time of our query.

It’s been three years since I personally presented that poster at DH2014 in Lausanne, but the topic of publishing pracitices within the digital humanities keeps being of great interest to me. It could be thought of as extreme academic navel-gazing, this business of deciding to look into bibliometric indicators and metadata of scholarly publications. For the digital humanities, however, questions of scholarly communications are questions of methodology, as the technologies and practices required for conducting research and teaching are closely related to the technologies and practices required to make the ‘results’ of teaching and research available. For DH insiders, this is closely connected to the good ol’ less-yacking-more-hacking, or rather, no yacking without hacking. Today, scholarly publishing is all about technological infrastructure, or at least about an ever-growing awareness of the challenges and opportunities of ‘hacking’ the modes of scholarly production.

Moreover, the digital humanities have also been for long preoccupied with the challenges in getting digital scholarship recoginsed and rewarded, and, also importantly, about the difficulties to ensure the human, technical and financial preconditions of sustainability. Scholarly publishing, or more precisely ‘scholarly communications’ as we prefer to say today, are also very much focused on those same concerns. If form and content are unavoidably interlinked and codependent in digital humanities practice, surely issues regarding the so-called ‘dissemination’ of said practice through publications remain vital to its development.

Anyway, I have now finally been able to share a dataset based on a report from the Altmetric Explorer looking into the articles published at the Journal of Digital Scholarship in the Humanities (from now on JDSH), one of the (if not the) leading journal in the field of digital humanities (it was previously titled Literary and Linguistic Computing). I first started looking into which JDSH articles were being tracked by Altmetric as mentioned online for the event organised by Domenico Fiormonte  at the University Roma Tre in April this year (the slides from my participation are here).

My motivation was no only to identify which JDSH outputs (and therefore authors, affiliations, topics, methodologies) were receiving online attention according to Altmetric. I wanted, as we had done previously in 2014, to use an initial report to look into what kind of licensing said articles had, whether they were ‘free to read’, paywalled or labeled with the orange open lock that identifies Open Access outputs.

Back in 2014 we did not have the Open Access Button nor its plugin and API. With it I had the possibility to try to check if any of the articles in my dataset had any openly/freely available versions through the Button. I contacted Joe McArthur from the Button to enquire whether it would be possible to run a list of DOIs through their API in bulk. It was, and we obtained some results.

Here’s a couple of very quick charts visualising some insights from the data.

It should also be highlighted that of the 6 links to institutional repository deposits found via the Open Access Button API, only one gave open access to the full version of the article. The rest were either metatada-only deposits or the full versions were embargoed.

As indicated above, the 60 ‘total articles’ refers to the number of entries in the dataset we are sharing. There are many more articles published in JDSH. The numbers presented represent only the data in question which is in turn the result of particular methods of collection and analysis.

In 2014 we detected that “the 3 most-mentioned outputs in the dataset were available without a paywall”, and we thought that could indicate “the potential of Open Access for greater public impact.” In this dataset, the three articles with the most mentions are also available without a paywall. The most mentioned article is the only one in the set that is licensed with a CC-BY license. The two that follow are ‘free’ articles that require permission for reuse.

The data presented is the result of the specific methods employed to obtain the data. In this sense this data represents as much a testing of the technologies employed as of the actual articles’ licensing and open availability. This means that data in columns L-P reflect the data available through the Open Access Button API at the moment of collection. It is perfectly possible that ‘open surrogates’ of the articles listed are available elsewhere through other methods. Likewise, it is perfectly possible that a different corpus of JDSH articles collected through other methods (for example, of articles without any mentions as tracked by Altmetric) have a different proportion of license and access types etc.

As indicated above the licensing and access type of each article were identified and added manually and individually. Article DOI’s were accessed one by one with a computer browser outside/without access to university library networks, as the intention was to verify if any of the articles were available to the general public without university library network/subscription credentials.

This blog post and the deposit of the data is part of a work in progress and is shared openly to document ongoing work and to encourage further discussion and analyses. It is hoped that quantitative data on the limited level of adoption of Creative Commons licenses and Institutional Repositories within a clearly-circumscribed corpora can motivate reflection and debate.


I am indebted to Joe McArthur for his kind and essential help cross-checking the original dataset with the OA Button API, and to Euan Adie and all the Altmetric team for enabling me to use the Altmetric Explorer to conduct research at no cost.

Previous Work Mentioned

Priego, Ernesto; Havemann, Leo; Atenas, Javiera (2014): Online Attention to Digital Humanities Publications (#DH2014 poster). figshare. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.1094345.v1 Retrieved: 18:46, Aug 04, 2017 (GMT).

Priego, Ernesto; Havemann, Leo; Atenas, Javiera (2014): Source Dataset for Online Attention to Digital Humanities Publications (#DH2014 poster). figshare. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.1094359.v5 Retrieved: 17:52, Aug 04, 2017 (GMT)

Priego, Ernesto (2017): Aprire l’Informatica umanistica / Abriendo las humanidades digitales / Opening the Digital Humanities. figshare. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.4902995.v1 Retrieved: 18:00, Aug 04, 2017 (GMT)

#OABooks and the Guide to Creative Commons for Humanities and Social Science Authors

The Guide to Creative Commons for Humanities and Social Science Monograph Authors

[Another belated post… trying to catch up…]

On the 1 and 2 July 2013, JISC Collections, and the OAPEN Foundation, held the Open Access Monographs in the Humanities and Social Sciences conference (#OAbooks). It was hosted at the British Library conference centre and was attended by over 250 international delegates from from all areas of scholarly communications.

If you click on the link you’ll find slides and videos from the main presentations.

The conference saw the launch of the Guide to Creative Commons for Humanities and Social Science Monograph Authors (2013) developed by the OAPEN-UK team: Ellen Collins, Caren Milloy and Graham Stone.

James Baker, Martin Paul Eve and I had the opportunity to work as editors of the guide. The editing process was a real joy as we followed open collaboration practices; we worked on a shared Google Document and held discussions in real time on the document itself, and as inserted comments and via email.

We worked with representatives of the publishing and legal sectors, and with experts from Creative Commons UK. Different opinions were considered and disagreements were solved in a professional manner, and in the end we showed online, open, horizontal, collaborative methods can have satisfactory results.

The Guide was distributed on print at the conferece in every delegate pack, and is also available to read online or to download as a PDF. Needless to say, the Guide is licensed with a Creative Commons- Attribution license.

I had the pleasure to give a brief introduction to the Guide on the second day of the conference, within the first strand, titled “How exactly do you get your monograph published in open access?”

For my presentation I showed the ISSUU version embedded on the JISC site for the Guide, here, contextualising the rationale for the Guide and its contents, giving the audience a personal ‘guided tour’ of the document, section by section.

I thoroughly enjoyed the conference, particularly the keynotes by Kathleen Fitzpatrick (view video) (view presentation) and Cameron Neylon  (view video) (view presentation).

A Belated Brief Report on my Open Access and Creative Commons Lecture in Mexico

After more than a month without updating this blog I am back. June was intense and July has been very busy. On different posts I’ll try to fill in the gaps.

In June I visited Mexico and had the immense honour to give a lecture at my alma mater on open access, Creative Commons licenses and copyright. It took place at t 12 PM on Tuesday 11 June 2013, at the National Library, Institute of Library Studies, National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), and it was generously chaired and organised by my colleague Isabel Galina (read her DH2013 closing lecture here).

I love the building of UNAM’s National Library; I spent several hours of my undergraduate years researching comic books there.

Biblioteca Nacional, Instituto de Investigaciones Bibliográficas, UNAM, México
Biblioteca Nacional, Instituto de Investigaciones Bibliográficas, UNAM, México
Main entrance to Biblioteca Nacional, Instituto de Investigaciones Bibliográficas, UNAM, México
Main entrance to Biblioteca Nacional, Instituto de Investigaciones Bibliográficas, UNAM, México
Inside the Biblioteca Nacional, Instituto de Investigaciones Bibliográficas, UNAM, Méxic
Inside the Biblioteca Nacional, Instituto de Investigaciones Bibliográficas, UNAM, México

Imagine what it was for this UNAM alumnus, now living in Britian, to walk into this imposing building, which holds so many memories, and seeing that the poster for my lecture was all over the place!

Poster for "El académico digital" inside the National Library, UNAM, México
Poster for “El académico digital” inside the National Library, UNAM, México

The lecture theatre was at full capacity, with people kindly seating on the floor and the steps. As usual I had too many slides, and I wish I had had more time to go into detail particularly when referring to the different types of Creative Commons licenses.  Some photos were posted on Twitter by attendees who live-tweeted the lecture, but I won’t be posting those here ;-)

As always I made my slides with the intention of sharing them online– lately I tend to think of slides as stand-alone documents, not necessarily made to be read in real time during the presentation, but to be revised later on online. You can view and download the slides here on Slideshare.

These slides are so far the most popular deck I have online, with 2,208 views since I posted them on 26 June 2013. I’m aware this is uncharacterised data and it is also likely to include automatic ’embeds’ from Twitter clients (which at least means it’s been shared on Twitter), but such a figure is interesting to say the least, speaking to me of the interest in open resources about open access publishing in Spanish.

My colleague Alberto Martinelli kindly recorded the audio of the talk and posted it on YouTube, which works as a (somewhat embarrassing, for me) complement of the slides. (¡Gracias, Alberto!).

There is still much to do regarding open access, copyright and open licenses awareness amongst scholars. Scholarly networks that have been relatively slower at embracing good practices in online scholarship in particular are very interested in comparing points of view and exchanging information. Hands-on workshops would be a great way to go in helping create greater awareness about the challenges and opportunities in the current scholarly publishing landscape.

Thank you to everyone who attended, asked questions and gave me very useful feedback. Hopefully we’ll see each other again sometime soon!

En mi Día de HD: Los blogs como herramienta académica

Reblogueado de http://dhd2013.filos.unam.mx/ernestopriego/2013/06/03/los-blogs-como-herramienta-academica/

Estamos ya a meros 7 días que sea el Día de las Humanidades Digitales en español y portugués 2013.

El tiempo es inmisericorde: me encuentro trabajando a máxima velocidad pues pronto viajaré a México, donde daré una plática sobre acceso abierto y creative commons, y después a Vancouver, para trabajar en el congreso sobre cómics y multimodalidad que co-organicé con mis colegas canadienses.

Esto quiere decir que el mero Día de las Humanidades Digitales estaré en la ciudad de México, seguro revisando mi plática –que será al día siguiente– y afinando los últimos detalles de la presentación.

Para mí el blogueo es una cuestión tanto del presente [continuo] como del pasado; tratar de mantenerme al tanto de lo cotidiano inevitablemente me arrastra hacia los días anteriores. El blog es, sí, una máquina de nostalgias.

Así, en ocasión de mi viaje a la madre patria y la alma mater aprovecho esta entrada para evocar la presentación que hice el jueves 17 de octubre de 2011 en la UNAM, titulada “Blogging como herramienta para la enseñanza y la investigación”. Por supuesto son sólo las diapositivas pero algo de información tienen que a lo mejor a alguien le pueden resultar útiles o al menos, espero, interesantes.

Pueden verla o bajarla para su reuso de Slideshare:


Conferencia magistral: El académico digital: acceso abierto, licencias y derechos de autor

June 2014 Update: Slides now also on figshare:

Priego, Ernesto (2014): [2013] El académico digital: acceso abierto, licencias y derechos de autor (Conferencia magistral, Biblioteca Nacional, UNAM, México, 11 de Junio de 2013). figshare.

[Slides on Slideshare].

[I have also announced this at my my Día de las Humanidades Digitales 2013 blog].

[También publiqué este anuncio en mi blog del Día de las Humanidades Digitales 2013].

[También publiqué esto en mi blog en / I also posted this at my HASTAC /blog].

I am honoured to announce I am giving a lecture at my alma mater on open access, Creative Commons licenses and copyright. It will take place at 12 PM on Tuesday 11 June 2013, at the National Library, Institute of Library Studies, National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).

Es un honor para mí anunciar que daré una conferencia magistral en mi alma mater sobre acceso abierto, licencias de Creative Commons y derechos de autor. Tendrá lugar a las doce del día martes 11 de junio de 2013, en la Biblioteca/Hemeretoca Nacional, Instituto de Investigaciones Bibliográficas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.

El académico digital: acceso abierto, licencias abiertas y derechos de autor, póster, Ernesto Priego, UNAM 11 de junio de 2013

¡Espero ver a algunos de ustedes por allá!

Sharing Research Images in a Networked World

Version 1.14. Written and published quickly… editing is ongoing… comments had been accidentally disabled, now enabled. If you are re-visiting this post, please refresh/reload your browser to ensure you see the latest version.

Update: Via Twitter Amber Thomas recommends Into the wild – Technology for open educational resources (December 2012) edited by  Lorna M. Campbell, Phil Barker, Martin Hawksey and herself (open access). Thank you Amber!


I should perhaps clarify that in this post I am thinking of “research images” in the case of charts, cartoons, doodles, infographics, posters etc. created by researchers/teachers/artists etc. and which are shared online. These images allow the inclusion of contextual text in the form of non-intrusive captions. I appreciate photographs shared online, particularly when published on line immediately after being taken, pose different problems.

I’ve also been thinking that researchers could be encouraged to share any research images we create on repositories of Open Educational Resources, which could contribute to creating awareness of licensing issues.

Attribution seems to me to be a key currency in scholarship (since direct financial reward for the creation/publishing of open content is rare). Therefore embedded licenses and self-archiving in repositories that offer a clear open licensing framework could be positive developments in the fostering of an academic culture that a) encourages sharing, b) recognises the work involved in sharing open resources, and c) attributes online sources.

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about attribution in the scholarly context of our days. Having done research for Altmetric, for example, made me very sensitive to the differences in the way different disciplines and cultures behave online in relation to sharing, commenting and attributing research online.

When I conceived The Comics Grid I was primarly concerned with establishing innovative mechanisms for addressing the need for online comics scholarship where original and annotated comics pages where shown without being deterred by copyright. Part of the project included helping develop critical awareness of how we cite different sources, including ‘non-traditional’ sources like comic books, cartoons, blog posts, online videos…

As I mentioned in my Forms of Innovation workshop session last Saturday in Durham, the World Wide Web is not the Wild Wild West, even if sometimes it definitely feels like that, a kind of no-man’s land where everyone takes whatever they want, even, perhaps surprisingly, in scholarly circles. I believe that Creative Commons licenses are an ideal way to develop a culture of ethical sharing and attribution.

Licenses by themselves cannot stop people from using content created by others in ways the licenses themselves preclude, but can be used in a court of law if there is evidence of misuse. This means that Open Licenses cannot by themselves make people act ethically: even when there is due licensing, where attribution and granted or reserved rights are clearly stipulated, people can always potentially act wrongly. Same happens with the law. So using and promoting Creative Commons Licenses is only the beginning of helping create a different culture where the World Wide Web is no longer the Wild Wild West, but we need this culture to become gradually pervasive to be really effective.

In the UK, a new Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act known as “The Instagram Act” has just been passed. Images found online that do not contain clear attribution can be considered ‘orphan works’ and therefore fall in the Public Domain (so anything goes with that content). Read about it here.

Earlier today, Amber Thomas from the University of Warwick tweeted a concern about infographics: “my problem with infographic practice is lack of provenance. hard to cite, lacking in publication date, rarely a clear copyright statement.” (Tweet, 1 May 2013; 11:29am GMT ).

A.J. Cann replied that “publishing on http://Figshare.org  would fix all that” (Tweet, 1 May 2013: 11:34am GMT). He is right (I also talked about Figshare as a means to ensure content is properly attributed, cited and licensed  in my presentation at Durham), but later I thought that perhaps that was not enough: files made to be shared online should include the attribution, citation and licensing information in the file itself.

Indeed, figshare helps providing a digital object identifier, citation and licensing information, but once the file is downloaded this can be shared further, separated from this context. Once downloaded the file can be endlessly shared, and if clear attribution and licensing is not included in the file, how many will actually trace back the file to the site it was originally made available from, where the attribution and licensing information appears? Thus the need for this information to be included in the file itself, not only on the figshare location from which people are downloading it from.

In the case of images this does not have to be a horrible watermark that compromises the artistic integrity of the image and renders it practically useless, and I’m not talking about some kind of digital rights management thing or restrictive permissions. Simply a clear legend explaining who is the author and in what terms the file is being shared, as a caption at the bottom of the image, in small but legible print. This information can/should be ideally included in the file’s properties too as metadata.

Take this fantastic image for example. I came across it through a retweet by Melonie Fullick.  I loved the image, and I retweeted Melonie’s tweet. I thought this is awsome! Who did it? Can we do t-shirts? Go on, click on the link again, it’s at http://annfriedman.com/image/49152967734.

We notice from the URL the image file is hosted at http://annfriedman.com/ which happens to be a site made with Tumblr. On that URL, the image file is orphaned from any context outside ‘Tumblr’ the name of the blog ‘annfriedman’ and the URL itself. I suspect many users will get there, see the image there and stop there: they won’t necessarily go and make an effort to find who did it or under what kind of license it has been shared online.

Because the image file has its own URL at Tumblr, I argue it is possible not to realise that the image is actually part of a blog post (and linked to it), with permalink http://annfriedman.com/post/49152967734/in-my-ongoing-quest-for-the-perfect-framework-for. On that blog post, Ann Friedman explains she “created The Disapproval Matrix**. (With a deep bow to its inspiration.)” (So please note that strictly speaking, as the author recognises, the image in question could be considered a “derivative” of another concept or series of images).

Granted, the image file URL, on its own, shows us the name of a person and the name of the Tumblr log (“annfriedman”) but what is crucial here is that the image file itself does not contain a caption indicating any authorship, attribution or licensing information, nor descriptive metadata, in human readable form, of what it is. One has to do “dilligent search” to find the actual blog post with the contextual information, and even then there is no indication whatsoever about how we as readers/visitors/users are allowed to use the image file in question (which has everything to go viral if you ask me).  If one scrolls down though, one finds the legend “Copyright 2012 Ann Friedman” at the bottom right corner of the Web site’s footer, but not in the post itself, and as I’ve said, not in the image file itself.

Copying “The Disapproval Matrix” is as easy as dragging and dropping. Folk are already sharing the link to the image file, not the link to the blog post that contains the image file and which explains Ann Friedman created it basing herself in the “Approval Matrix” series from New York Magazine.

Now, this post is not about this particular image or its author. It is not a personal critique. I have also shared lots of images online which do not contain attribution and licensing information on the files themselves. I am making use of an example to make a point, about how images are easily reproduced online and about what authors can do about it, regardless if they care or not if they are attributed for their work.

This is what the Web does: it makes decontextualising extremely easy, and it demands an effort from users to locate source, authorship, ownership and/or licensing. As authors of content, we cannot assume that people surfing the Web will all do “dilligent research” to find to whom does an image or any other file (say, an academic paper in PDF or PowerPoint presentation) belong to and how they can use it. The image file and the blog post providing context are very easily separable; the name in a Web resource’s title or URL are no clear indication of authorship, and we cannot just assume that people will make the effort to do “dilligent research.”

The context we live in online is one of attention deficit and speed. Social media platforms allow, encourage and maximise decontextualisation and recontextualisation. Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest: a file that does not indicate source and other information required for citation in itself (as a caption in the case of an image file, which is not in HTML of the resource hosting the file but as part of the image itself and in the file’s metadata) will always run the danger of becoming orphaned.

Needless to say, images can be edited using very basic software, and PDFs can be annotated, slides containing attribution and license deleted, etc. People wanting to steal content will do so no matter what. But we have to stop acting alarmed if our content ends up being shared and reused endlessly without our name if we don’t take some basic measures to ensure everyone and anyone will know easily and directly and very much obviously who created what, and in which ways others are allowed to use it.

Forms of Innovation Deck of Slides

I have done an edit of the deck of slides I showed at the Forms of Innovation workshop at the University of Durham last Saturday 27th April 2013 to share online.

You can download it as a .pptx file, and use it under a CC BY license, from Figshare.

Forms of Innovation: Collaboration, Attribution, Access. Ernesto Priego. figshare.

Retrieved 10:57, Apr 29, 2013 (GMT)


At the University of Durham: Humanities, Copyright and New Technologies (Workshop)

 Forms of Innovation, University of Durham I am looking forward to participating in Forms of Innovation: Humanities, Copyright and New Technologies, a workshop at the University of Durham this Saturday 27 April 2013.

I am honoured to be co-leading this workshop along my much-admired colleagues Dr Martin Eve and Dr Caroline Edwards (Lincoln University/Open Library of Humanities) and Professor Ronan Deazley (University of Glasgow Law School/AHRC CREATe).

The title of my seminar is “Humanities research, new media and issues of authorship and attribution”, and I hope to facilitate a discussion around how ‘new’ technologies and the corresponding cultures they are embedded in and interact with are challenging previous assumptions about authority, originality and derivation, attribution and citation.

I am most grateful to my colleague Kaja Marczewska (University of Durham) for organising this event and for the kind invitation. Hopefully I’ll see some of you there?