Publishing as an Actor-Network-Theory

This clip shows part of a single network according to Latour’s Action-Network-Theory (ANT). As you can see there are many non-human actors, i.e. the machinery involved in making the newspaper and the paper itself, and a number of human actors involved in the process. Of course there is much missing at the beginning of the process, e.g. the journalists, editors, sub-editors- and also at the end, which would be the reader. In addition, all of the machinery used is made up of it’s own components too. All of these interactions would make up a single network.

According to ANT, actor-networks are potentially transient, existing in a constant making and re-making. In terms of publishing, non-human actors become extremely important in publishing as a practice. Since the invention of the printing press, publishing has changed drastically. The most recent changes have occurred due to the advent of digital technologies, such as the laptop and I-pad. These non-human actors, as well as the human actors who are creating them, are shifting the very concept of publishing (Shaviro, S. 2007).

On looking at publishing as an ANT Manuel Delanda suggests that, “No entity can be absolutely isolated, because it is always involved in multiple relations of one sort or another, and these relations affect the entity, cause it to change. But this is not to say that the entity is entirely determined by these relations”(Shaviro, S. 2007).

In short, to look at publishing as an ANT would be a lengthy task… and I’m sure we are about to find out how long.

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