As an undergraduate, I wrote a paper with the same title as this post on Benjamin’s revolutionary vision of mechanical reproduction and Adorno’s grim outlook in his Culture Industry and tried to apply it to the up and coming digital age. I focused mostly on music production and sharing, but I find it extremely interesting how well it applies to this particular case of digital scholarship and publishing. Dawson’s account of the revolutionary potential of OA and online publishing/scholarship mixed with her fear of hegemonic control of said technology and potential is reminiscent of this age old power struggle. As with anything dangerous or possibly threatening to the hegemony, often the ruling powers assimilate and control and/or ostracize and destroy, which they clearly are trying to do with digital revolutions and the like. However, where I think Benjamin might have been over zealous with mechanical production, digital technology rears revolution back to the forefront of society because the means of production and distribution cannot be controlled. This to me is the key for successful restructuring of society. As we are seeing with the music industry, I believe the same can be executed in scholarship and publishing.
My question for you guys, I guess, is:
There will always be a struggle between the scholar, the institution, and those at the top, so will all of this potential be swallowed by capitalist measures and assimilated and controlled or could this digital age actually usher new potential for distinct and definite positive change?