Friday, Jul 25, 2014 02:15 pm est

Gallatin professor creates online version of Sir Thomas More’s ‘Utopia’

Posted on October 18, 2012 | by Jonathan Keshishoglou

When Sir Thomas More wrote “Utopia” in the 16th century, he envisioned a perfect society, built on openness and transparency.

Gallatin professor Stephen Duncombe is bringing More’s ideas — and text — into the 21st century with “Open Utopia,” an open-access, online edition of More’s book. Duncombe created the site as an innovative way to read, understand and interact with “Utopia.”

“The guiding principle of More’s society [in ‘Utopia’] was that all property should be common property, so … by making it easily downloadable from the site, I’ve done my best to honor this ideal,” Duncombe said.

Duncombe had the idea for the site several years ago when he was asked to teach a seminar on political imagination at Moscow

State University. He reread “Utopia” in preparation for the course and reached a different understanding than he had in the past.

“I didn’t read ‘Utopia’ as a plan for a new society, but instead I understood it as a prompt for getting readers to imagine new societies on their own,” Duncombe said. “I came to realize that ‘Utopia’ is … an open work.”

Duncombe’s website includes a feature called Social Book, which was implemented with the help of the Institute for the Future of the Book, an organization focused on the future of books in the digital age. With Social Book, readers can add their own notes and ideas into the margins of the text for others users to read and discuss.

Along with Social Book, users of Open Utopia can express their ideas through Wikitopia, a wiki site designed specifically for “Utopia.” The site serves as a platform for collective authorship.

“Readers become writers, drafting individual and collective new visions of Utopian societies,”
Duncombe said.

Users have the option of creating a utopia of their own, which have lead to personal web pages like Promethealand and Techtopia. Users can edit and add to other users’ utopias, an option that keeps with More’s principle of all property, including ideas, belonging to the community.

“Open Utopia” includes audio book and e-book versions of More’s text, along with several other formats. The site also contains videos, pictures and maps that enhance the experience of “Utopia,” with more content being added regularly.

“I like the way this [‘Open Utopia’] takes advantage of the inherently collaborative nature of new media,” said Gallatin freshman Leor Freedman, who has used the site.

“Open Utopia” is available at theopenutopia.org.

A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Oct. 18 print edition. Jonathan Keshishoglou is a staff writer. Email him at features@nyunews.com. 

Comments

CLOSE [x]
CLOSE [x]
CLOSE [x]
profile portrait
Felipe De La Hoz

Multimedia Editor | Felipe De La Hoz is a Colombian national studying journalism at the College of Arts and Sciences. Having been born in Colombia and raised in the United States, Mexico and Brazil, Felipe is a trilingual travel aficionado and enjoys working in varied and difficult environments. Apart from his photography, Felipe enjoys investigative reporting and interviews, interviewing the likes of Colombian ex-M-19 guerrilla fighters and controversial politician Jimmy McMillan. He has covered everything from governmental conferences to full-blown riots, as well as portraiture shoots and dining photography. Having worked under Brazilian photojournalists for Reuters and AFP, Felipe hopes to one day work on demanding journalistic projects and contribute to the global news cycle.

AS
Ann Schmidt

News Editor | Ann is a liberal studies sophomore who lived in Florence during her freshman year. She plans on double-majoring in journalism and political science and is always busy. She is constantly making lists and she loves to laugh.

 

DY
Daniel Yeom

Daniel started at the Features desk of WSN last Spring, writing restaurant reviews whilst indulging on free food and consequently getting fat. Last Fall, he was the dining editor, and he this semester he is senior editor. Daniel is in Gallatin (living the dream) studying Food & Travel Narratives, incorporating aspects of Food Studies, Journalism, and Media, Culture, and Communication. He loves food more than life itself.

Hannah Luu

Deputy Multimedia Editor | Hannah Luu is a ridiculously great Deputy Multimedia Editor. She is a sophomore from Northern California. If you think Northern California means San Francisco you might need to closely examine a map. She is passionate about NPR and being half Asian.

CLOSE [x]
  • How to join:

    The Washington Square News holds open weekly budget meetings at its office located at 838 Broadway every Sunday. All are welcome to attend, no matter your background in journalism, writing, or reporting. Specific times for meetings by desk are listed below. If you wish to talk to an editor before you attend, feel free to check out the Staff page.

    NEWS FEATURES MULTIMEDIA SPORTS ARTS OPINION
    5 P.M. 6 P.M. 6 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 7 P.M.

    Applying for an editor position: Applications for editor positions during the fall or spring semesters are available twice each academic year and can be found here when posted. Applications for the Fall 2012 semester are closed, but check back for Spring 2013. Those who wish to apply are urged to publish pieces in the newspaper and contact current editors for shadowing.

    History of the Washington Square News:

    The Washington Square News is the official daily student newspaper of New York University and serves the NYU, Greenwich Village, and East Village communities. Founded as an independent newspaper in 1973, the WSN allows its undergraduate writers and photographers to cover campus and city news and continues to grow its strong body of award-winning journalists and photographers.

  • The WSN has a circulation of about 60,000 and can be found in over a hundred purple bins distributed throughout campus. It is published Monday through Thursday during the fall and spring semesters and online on Friday, with additional special issues published in the summer. The newspaper recently revamped its website during the Fall 2012 semester.

    Like few campus newspapers in the country, the paper is editorially and financially independent from the university and is solely responsible for selling advertisements to fund its production. The WSN, including its senior staff, is run solely by current undergraduate students and the business-division is largely student-operated as well.

    A Board of Directors comprised of alumni, NYU professors and working news media professionals serves as advisors to the paper. Board members have no control in the WSN's editorial policy or newsroom operations. Alumni of the newspaper are established and leading journalists in such news organizations as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NBC news, ABC news, Fox News, and USA Today.

    Next