Thursday, April 4, 2013

How Current Digital Publishing Trends Impact Freedom of Expression

This weekend I'm taking part in a workshop at ANFASA's "Future of the Book" event. The workshop I'm speaking on is titled 'How Current Digital Publishing Trends Impact Freedom of Expression' and look at how Amazon and Apple have dominated the international digital publishing arena and what that entails for the local digital publishing trends.

My fellow panelists are all sort-of friends (read: ex-employers) so I feel like I know what topics they are going to focus on. For my own part, I'm feeling slightly out of my depth. Freedom of expression is not really a topic that comes up much when discussing children's literature to be honest. Except if you're taking abou the 'Tintin in Congo' saga in which case: obvs, like all the time. Unfortunately, there isn't a 'Tintin on the Cape Flats' situation to draw parallels to and South Africa seems to have swept our racist kid lit under the new democracy carpet.

I think what I'm going to talk about how reaching children means finding them on their own platforms and their own terms. In an African context, this necessarily involves an expansion of the notion of digital publishing from just being about ebooks to including publishing to mobile, on social networks and abandoning formats that publishers are only just beginning to grapple with. It also involves a change in the gatekeepers that traditionally managed what content was created for children and by whom. Freedom of expression for creators of content is increased as information, tools and resources to publish are democratised. But freedom comes at a cost and in this case, it may be passed onto the consumers of that digital content: the children.

Is this a good idea? A good approach to the question? I guess I'll have to wait until the workshop to see...

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