New York University Professor Stephen Duncombe has brought Sir Thomas More’s 16th century tale, Utopia, into the 21st century with the first web-based, open source, and open access edition of More’s classic work.
“Open Utopia” may be found at http://theopenutopia.org.
Duncombe has utilized the capabilities of the web to enable readers to engage in Utopia in new ways that open up the text, creating a platform for others to comment upon More’s text and write their own, building communities of critics and creators. In collaboration with the Institute for the Future of the Book, “Open Utopia” features a “Social Book” edition that allows Utopia readers to annotate the text on-line and then share their thoughts with communities as small as a local book club or as large as the world. Through “Wikitopia,” a wiki platform for collective authorship, readers become writers: drafting individual and collective new visions of Utopian societies.
“Open Utopia” also features an ever-expanding library of user-generated, Utopian-themed videos and images as well as audio files of Utopia read aloud.
“We need Utopian thinking more than ever,” explains Duncombe, an associate professor at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, “and I’ve always thought it ironic that a text that lauded common property was restricted by copyright and limited in its distribution through its paper and ink form. My ‘Open Utopia’ project is an effort to open up More’s text – in every way possible.”
Duncombe concludes: “Thomas More’s Utopia is more than the story of a far-off land where there is no private property. It’s a text that instructs us how to approach texts, be they literary or political, in an open manner: open to criticism, open to participation, open to modification, and open to re-creation. I’ve done my best with the ‘Open Utopia’ to convey this message and continue the tradition.”
Reporters wishing to speak with Duncombe should contact James Devitt, NYU’s Office of Public Affairs, at 212.998.6808 or email@example.com.