Why publish on the Internet?

When I undertook this project, in the late 1990s, I was spurred on by the opportunities and advantages that the Internet offers.

Above all, it is of course the freedom offered by the Web that is so attractive. Here, it seems, it is possible to ‘write a book’ without a publisher whose overriding concern is profit; without the oppressive supervision of an academic 'community' whose main preoccupation is to serve political authority; without the patronage of critics and the promiscuous attentions of media people; without the mean constraints of copyright.

The electronic medium, furthermore, offers some truly novel possibilities. What is written becomes fluid, alterable, independent of the physical and financial constraints of printing and paper. There need be no definitive edition that fixes for ever the ideas expressed, to become embalmed, perhaps, as the object of endless and fruitless exegesis in academic mausoleums. The text can even be ‘interactive’ – it can respond to the views of readers as it is written.

The great question was, would anybody read it? I comforted myself with the thought that even if the readership was limited, those who made the effort would probably be those I most wanted to reach.

A few years on from the completion of the project, I'm not sure I could say it has been an unqualified success. It is true that some people have read and responded to the 'book', but they are very few indeed. It is, I suspect, asking too much to expect people to read a long text on line, and downloading brings its own considerable inconveniences - not least the trouble and expense of printing. The hope that people would engage with the text, that it could profit from the fluidity of the medium, has in the main been disappointed; much as I value those dialogues it has brought about, they are vanishingly few - countable on no more than the fingers of one hand. Of course, anybody who feel like responding is very welcome to contact me.

There is another interesting drawback to Internet publication - or so I find - and that is its tendency to date very quickly. When one writes a book one is aware of the relative permanence of the contents and so is careful to avoid, for example, too many topical references. Exactly the opposite is the case with a cyber-production: the possibility of including topical illustrations and links is too good to resist. As long as there is an incentive to keeping these up to date, it is of course not difficult to do so, but if, as in this case, one senses that hardly anyone is reading the text anyway, any such exercise becomes vacuous and tiresome - and so the work drifts quickly out of date.

In view of all this, rather than trying continually to modify and update this publication, I decided once again to resort to hard copy. The result is Power, Interest and Psychology, which was published in May 2005 by PCCS Books.


MS Word version
For readers who may prefer it, I have made a tidy, printable version of these pages in MS Word. These may be saved to disk by right-clicking the following links and 'saving link (or target) as':-


Please note that this version is designed for off-line use. Though the links in it are shown in blue, they may not work properly if clicked when on-line.

This page last revised 11/1/10


Why publish on
the Internet?


The structure of social space

The experience of self

The technology of profit
   1 Make-believe
   2 Outside-in
   3 Inside-out


What then must we do?

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