Open Publication, Digital Abundance, and Scarce Labour

Author : Martin Paul Eve

This article examines the challenges of labour provision in the open-access online scholarly publishing environment. While the technological underpinnings of open access imply an abundance, it is also the case that the labour that remains necessary in the publishing processes is based on a set of economics that are scarce: the availability of human time, effort, and expertise.

I here argue, with a demonstration of some of the labours of XML typesetting, that we are unlikely to realise the transformations of an abundant proliferation of scholarship without a substantial change and re-distribution of labour functions to authors, which is unlikely to be socially accepted.

The resultant outputs from this process would also, I argue, be less likely to be machine readable and semantically rich, thereby conflicting with other imagined digital possibilities.