Fall 2007 Editor’s Note


It is with great pleasure, and a healthy dose of pride, that I introduce the Fall 2007 Issue of gnovis – the culmination of an exhilarating but busy summer and fall. Though labeled Volume 8, Number 1, this issue is, to my knowledge, the first formal issue released by gnovis: six articles, published simultaneously, as a set. As a principally online journal, gnovis has in the past—for better or worse—had the ability to accept and publish articles on a rolling basis. However, in the interests of increasing our output, locking down our workflow, and expanding our readership, we decided that it was time to switch to a more traditional publication process.

The result? This issue alone contains more papers than were published in any one of the previous four academic years, and we’re only halfway through the year. Our submission rate has nearly doubled over last year, and we’ve received a very welcome influx of articles from outside of Georgetown University, one of which has been included in this issue.

Our new publication process isn’t the only change at gnovis this year. We’ve also diversified our online content, which now includes a blog and a podcast, in addition to the journal. All of our content is available on our website, at www.gnovisjournal.org.

It should come as no surprise, given the broad fields of inquiry that gnovis draws upon, that the articles in this issue offer a rich diversity of topics and perspectives. There is a risk, of course, of grouping together topics so disparate that they merely float around each other, like oil and water. There is also a risk of forging implausible links, in an attempt to knead those disparate topics into a cohesive theme. In the descriptions that follow, I will strike a compromise, pointing out the linkages where they are the strongest, but basking in the variety where they are not.

Our first three papers deal, in various ways, with the democratization of production in contemporary
culture, exploring questions of access, control, collaboration, ideology, and resistance.

The Economics of Cultural Legitimacy in Hip Hop’s Counterpublic Space, contributed by Mike Moore, examines authenticity in hip hop culture. In a delightful fusion of critical theory with cultural artifacts, he emphasizes, in particular, the fluidity of cultural borders, and advocates for a more inclusive understanding of cultural difference.

In The Origins and Implications of Free Software Karl Arthur Giverholt provides a historical look at the open source/free software movement, framed by a case study of GNU/Linux, and argues for a shift from economics to ethics in the way we think about ownership, work, and technology. Giverholt is a Master’s candidate in Humanities and Social Thought at New York University, and is the first author to be published in gnovis without a prior affiliation with Georgetown University. We are very grateful for his contribution.

Termeh Rassi, in YouTube:Examining a Revolution, questions the popular notion that YouTube directly challenges normative capitalist production, suggesting that the website may be an evolution of the existing production system, rather than a revolution against it.

From there, our issue takes a bit of a departure from its own apparent trajectory. In The Formative Power of Wartime Rhetoric: A Critical Discursive Analysis of Presidential Speech, Megan Weintraub gives us an insightful comparison of the rhetorical tactics of JFK and George W. Bush, focusing largely on the common ways that their respective speeches legitimated their claims of an enemy and garnered support for military engagement.

Mahvish Khan, in Cooking Your Way to Completeness: The Food Network Phenomenon and the
Creation of a New Domestic Paragon – the Ideal Hostess
, analyzes gender norms on the Food Network as it shifts the notion of cooking from a womanly chore to a mark of leisure. Like Moore’s article, Khan’s weaves a delightful and impressive path from theory to pop culture and back again.

Finally, in Modern Surveillance Methods and Public Trust, Nicholas Proferes explores the changing nature of privacy and surveillance in our current era of ubiquitous and networked technologies, and the challenges these rapid changes present to aging policies and legal precedents. Proferes remind us that—even as we enjoy our hip hop collection on our iPod, our open source editing tools, our endless stream of cute-kitten videos, our streamed political news, and even episodes of our favorite cooking show—we are participating in a culture that is mediated by technology, that is both invigorated and threatened by those technologies, and that there is a tremendous amount at stake.

Our hope is that this issue is just the first phase of the successful expansion of gnovis in the coming years, and that the articles within will inspire, inform, and raise a challenge for
future contributors. If, as I have hinted, these papers are somewhat disparate in topic, there is nonetheless much that they have in common: a vitality of purpose, grounded in the many facets of contemporary culture—technological, political, social and creative; a commitment to interdisciplinary rigor and ambition; and a distinct awareness of the relationship between the present and the past.

I hope you enjoy this issue. Looking ahead briefly, we plan to repeat this effort in the spring semester
with a second issue, followed in the summer by a special themed issue, focused on the changing role of media and technology in politics and elections. Details about future issues, as well as our blog, podcast, and resources for graduate students, can be found on our website at http://gnovisjournal.org/

— Brad Weikel

Brad Weikel

Brad Weikel received his MA in Communication, Culture & Technology (CCT) from Georgetown University in 2009. His thesis, "From Coding to Community: Iteration, Abstraction, and Open Source Software Development" argued that programming practices, particularly iterative workflows and abstraction models, can help explain both the success and struggles of open source software. His work was a technocentric complement to prior explanations from economists, lawyers, and political and cultural theorists. While writing his thesis, Brad blogged about his topic at OpenCulture.cc, where he has since continued blogging, more broudly, about collaborative production and the commons at large. Brad was Managing Editor of gnovis during the 2007/2008 and 2008/2009 school years, and Creative Director in 2006/2007. He is currently the Web & Communications Coordinator for EarthRights International.