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OpenSource or other OpenContent projects are not wholly new phenomenon. Precedents are many, including during PrintCulture?. While most of the early printers did only reproduce manuscripts, typically hastily and with a fair degree of corruption, some publishers sought to produce high quality editions by turning TheAudience into a vast network of editors submitting corrections. Ortelius, for instance, created his atlas, Theatrum in this manner with the promise of crediting contributors.
- By the simple expedient of being honest with his readers and inviting criticism and suggestions, Ortelius made his Theatrum a sort of cooperative enterprise on an international basis. He received helpful suggestions from far and wide and cartographers stumbled over themselves to send him their latest maps of regions not covered in the Theatrum.
- The Theatrum was . . . speedily reprinted several times . . . Suggestions for corrections and revisions kept Ortelius and his engravers busy altering plates for new editions . . . Within three years he had acquired so many new maps that he issued a supplement of 17 maps which were afterwards incorporated in the Theatrum. When Ortelius died in 1598 at least 28 editions of the atlas had been published in Latin, Dutch, German, French and Spanish . . . The last edition was published by the House of Plantin in 1612. (unknown as qtd. in Eisenstein, 1983, p. 74)
Thus Ortelius was pointing towards the modern idea of scientific collaboration.
The OxfordEnglishDictionary? also has a similar origin, only moreso.
The difference to learn from these previous age and the current one is that PrintCulture? lacked the intrinsic social impetus to create works collaboratively, whereas the DigitalNetwork requires the creation of shared works simply because power is shared amongst a number of peer actors. PrintCulture? was marked by TheIndividual publishers and the cult of TheAuthor, a contradiction to collaborative works.