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Experimental Publishing collaboration with POP, the Politics of Patents project

Published onJul 01, 2021
Experimental Publishing collaboration with POP, the Politics of Patents project

COPIM's experimental publishing group (WP6) is pleased to publicly announce a collaboration with POP, the Politics of Patents project.

Together, we are experimenting with what a Data Book could look like. We probe how texts relate to the archive, and how digital tools complicate this relationship, while also opening ways to render them more dynamically, and potentially available to open and ongoing interpretations.

Politics of Patents explores connections between citizens and clothing, drawing on over 200 years of patent data. The project examines this vast data-set to investigate how patterns materialise, reinforce or resist, subvert and disrupt social and political norms and beliefs, and in the process, bring new expressions of citizenship into being.

The experimental publishing group at COPIM is collaborating with four research ​and book publishing projects:

  1. ​One focuses on POP and Data books ​working together with Mattering Press.

  2. A second one, in collaboration with Open Humanities Press, explores the notion of Combinatorial Books that are made by reusing existing texts beyond established citation practices. Both involve innovative re-use of source data and texts. 

  3. A third project, X-Sketchbook, in collaboration with TIB Hannover (Germany), The Bartlett School of Architecture (UCL, London, UK), and Open Book Publishers, will explore the state of the art of experimentation in architectural publishing.

  4. And a fourth project, Citizen Science for Research Libraries—A Guide, in collaboration with TIB Hannover and the LIBER Citizen Science Working Group, will explore ways to assist research libraries in setting up Citizen Science programs at their institutions.

For the POP/Data Book project, we are working closely with Kat Jungnickel and her POP team. The collaboration speaks to concerns with the archive, and how its authority might be queered and bent if it is exposed to open-ended reading.

It also addresses the relationship between qualitative texts and quantitative data, and how one renders the other, and who has the power to frame such renderings, and how-thanks to machine-assisted reading of large data-bases, and the machine generation of human-readable texts, sounds and images there is no longer a clear distinction in kind, of scale or otherwise, between qualitative and quantitative data. The project experiments with the archive as the book, and the book as the archive.

POP research is based on a large dataset of 200 years of clothing inventions. It started with 370,000 patents. More about where the data comes from here. We may of course be biased, but these are not just dusty, dry, old bits of data. Patents hold lively, dynamic, story-filled multi-dimensional experiences of the world. There are many stories of lesser-known inventors and inventions, beyond hegemonic norms, that open up and expand normative understandings of the world at different times, They provide insights into what people were concerned about — and how they sought to address and solve specific problems — they give us glimpses into lives, times and places.

Like many projects, we are committed to open access and plan to put our data into open access archives for other researchers to use. We are also interested in thinking about how else we might make this large dataset of historic patents available — what kinds of other lives this data might have...

So, we are delighted to be a ​pilot project for the COPIM project to explore and experiment, perform, engage and make other things with this data. We are curious about what interests, intrigues, excites others about it - and how else we might collectively invite people into this dataset.

The first steps in the project involve a series of workshops on ReUsing Data in creative and critical ways. It is a collective exploration of how digital tools and machines have changed the relationship between texts and sources, as well as of the conceptual/imaginative spaces and relationalities that emerge around them.

Bringing together scholars, writers, artists and publishers we aim to reflect on and experiment with practices of using and reusing sources that relate texts and their sources in new ways. COPIM + POP ​+ Mattering Press are interested in how texts refer to one another; how texts relate to data; how texts and data are (re)used, experimented with and performed; and how these relationships reconfigure / are reconfigured through new collaborative / multi-modal / multi-actor writing and archival practices and infrastructures.

Header image: Mask images from the POP dataset of historical garment patents.

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