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2008: The Commons

Editor's Introduction

Anyone who’s ever attended a class or taught in the humanities has experienced a cultural commons, be it students sharing their writing, professors sharing their favorite works of literature, philosophers sharing and debating ideas. Sharing is part of what makes us human. Technologies have facilitated this sharing in a variety of ways (the quill and pen allowed a voice to traverse time and space; the printing press allowed quick and reliable reproduction of texts), but digital media present a special case. Through networking technologies and digital transmission, we now have available an historically unprecedented capacity to share our cultural resources and to contribute to what humanists have called “tradition” since the ancient Greek era of oratorical and sometimes print culture. No longer restricted to dusty tomes in library stacks, tradition is now dispersed and rewritten on websites, blogs, in wikis, on video- and audio-sharing sites, through podcasts, and even over portable devices such as PDAs.

The digitized commons poses unique challenges. Citizens and legislators must devise, follow, and enforce laws that protect as well as promote cultural production. Lawrence Lessig’s interview in this issue traces his intellectual development from a concerned netizen to an advocate for new forms of government that will better serve the cultural efflorescence made possible by new technologies. Teachers and students must invent, enact, and explore possibilities for inquiry and cultural production. The contributors to our Pedagogy Symposium (Stuart Selber, Johndan Johnson-Eilola, Alan Liu, Cedrick May, and Robert Scholes), together with their respondent (Jim Brown) offer practical efforts at humanistic education in the protean, digitally networked cultural commons.

Justin Tremel

Mark Garrett Longaker


The Commons, Corruption, and the Next Ten Years: An Interview with Lawrence Lessig
Lawrence Lessig with Justin Tremel

Teaching in the Digital Commons: A Symposium

Commons-Based Pedagogies and the Social Turn in Technical Communication
by Johndan Johnson-Eilola and Stuart A. Selber

by Alan Liu

Video Production and Distribution for the Composition and Literature Classroom
by Cedrick May

The Modernist Journals Project
by Robert Scholes

Symposium Response

Response: (Re) Make it New
by James J. Brown, Jr.

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