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Launch of Experimental Book Publishing Pilot Project ‘Servpub – A Collective Infrastructure to Serve and Publish’

Starting an experimental book pilot project by Slade School of Fine Art, CSNI, SHAPE, Minor Compositions, In-grid, Systerserver, and Creative Crowds

Published onApr 26, 2024
Launch of Experimental Book Publishing Pilot Project ‘Servpub – A Collective Infrastructure to Serve and Publish’

The Open Book Futures (OBF) Experimental Publishing Group is pleased to announce the launch of ‘Servpub – A Collective Infrastructure to Serve and Publish’, one of three funded pilot projects resulting from OBF's call for experimental book projects

OBF's aim with the pilot projects is to promote the publication of experimental books. To achieve this aim, OBF wants to foster sustainable communities of authors, publishers, developers, editors, reviewers, and open-source technology providers who engage in more experimental forms of book publishing. Our focus is specifically on the publishing process and on adapting academic publishers' existing workflows and processes to accommodate better the multiple forms and formats academic long-form research can take. As part of the pilot projects, the Experimental Publishing Group works closely with the authors, presses, and technology providers to foster communities of practice that can support experimental book publishing. The pilots will further demonstrate and develop the possibilities of experimental scholarly publications thus helping to increase the recognition given to work published in non-traditional ways.

Servpub – A Collective Infrastructure to Serve and Publish

Servpub – A Collective Infrastructure to Serve and Publish will be developed collaboratively by scholars, artists, designers, and technologists. It is a platform for research and practice around autonomous networks, affective infrastructures and experimental publishing through artistic and feminist methods that expands the idea of books as networked objects towards the infrastructures that facilitate their creation and distribution.

With this, Servpub embeds publishing in its fuller infrastructural context and creates an ecosystem that supports relative autonomy from US-centric technology companies at every level of the publishing process. The project challenges proprietary software solutions provided by profit-oriented companies that inhibit community-building, open knowledge sharing, experimentation, as well as critical reflection on power asymmetries and exploitative labour within technical infrastructures.

The aim of Servpub is to develop a book that reflects on its own becoming, an alternative publishing platform that integrates previously separated processes (e.g. writing, editing, peer review, design, print, distribution, as well as hosting, etc.) with a self-managed server infrastructure, which uses a Virtual Private Network (VPN) with a reverse proxy that makes it accessible on the public internet. It will establish a self-hosted and self-organized workflow and a model for future scholarly publishing which promotes the open sharing of resources and peer exchange; allowing for the collaborative modification and versioning of texts and other dynamic community interactions; and supporting critical reflection on technological power asymmetries.

Servpub involves the following groups: Slade School of Fine Art, part of the University College London; CSNI, a research centre at London South Bank University; SHAPE, a research project at Aarhus University focussed on digital citizenship; Minor Compositions, a publisher of books and media drawing from autonomous politics, avant-garde aesthetics, and the revolutions of everyday life; In-grid, a London-based trans*feminist collective of artists/educators/technologists working in and around digital infrastructure; Syster Server, an international collective run by feminists that offers internet-based FOSS tools to its network of feminists, queers and trans; Creative Crowds, a shared server for FLOSS publishing experiments to explore how different ways of working are shaped by (and shape) different realities. 

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