I’m really, really interested in this–partly because I studied and wrote about Foucault back when I was still doing research on philosophy rather than (as now) about teaching and learning. And I was fascinated with his argument about authorship. Still am.

Though he says the following is a romantic notion, I wonder if some aspects of how we interact online today might start to move in that direction:

“It would be pure romanticism, however, to imagine a culture in which the
fictive would operate in an absolutely free state, in which fiction
would be put at the disposal of everyone and would develop without
passing through something like a necessary or constraining figure.”

Not just the fictive, but the non-fictive as well (assuming he is using “fiction” in the “usual” sense). Choral explanations is one example. I hadn’t heard of the NPR thing before, and perusing their story and the Hearken site, I can’t quite tell how it all works well enough to understand how that might affect the “author-function,” as Foucault puts it.

I have another example as well. I work with a few teams of people at my institution on our school’s wiki site: http://wiki.ubc.ca. We use the wiki to create content that goes onto other websites, such as http://open.ubc.ca. I am also working with professors who are creating open case studies with their students–case studies on various topics (most are on environmental and sustainability issues at the moment) that are co-written by instructors and various sets of students in different classes. The content created in such spaces is written by multiple people, sometimes even at the sentence/word level.

And yet, most of that content is licensed CC BY or CC BY-SA. Which raised a question for me: if someone wants to attribute, who does the “BY” attach to? There are multiple authors–one can get to the contributions of each through the wiki page “history,” but the work as a whole is quite collaborative. Is there a single author?

It seems like this and the choral explanations example could be ones that fit the idea quoted above, of work not having to pass through a “constraining figure”. True of Wikipedia too, on those articles that have multiple authors/edits (which I think is most?).

Thanks for a thought-provoking post!