Document Type



Media Studies (Pomona)

Publication Date

Fall 2007


Social media, blogs, scholarly communication, publishing, digital humanities


On July 25, 2007, the Institute for the Future of the Book released version 1.0 of CommentPress, a theme for WordPress that facilitates the web publication of lengthy documents in a fashion that is both internally and externally networked, and that allows for reader commenting and discussion at a level of granularity ranging from the document as a whole to the individual paragraph. The goal of CommentPress, as the project's "about" page presents, stems from the desire
to see whether a popular net-native publishing form, the blog, which, most would agree, is very good at covering the present moment in pithy, conversational bursts but lousy at handling larger, slow-developing works requiring more than chronological organization—whether this form might be refashioned to enable social interaction around long-form texts.

This connection, in CommentPress, of an experiment into the organization of digital text with a desire to promote social interaction within and around it offers us the opportunity to resituate the problem of electronic publishing in a potentially productive way, and in so doing compels a new perspective on certain aspects of the historical development of publishing. This paper will take that look backward as a means of considering the significance of a project like CommentPress — which should be understood not as the apotheosis of electronic publishing, but rather as one example of a fruitful avenue of development — for the future of textuality online.


The original online versions of this article can be found at the Journal of Electronic Publishing (Vol. 10, Issue 3, Fall 2007) and at CommentPress.

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© 2007 Kathleen Fitzpatrick

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