[Air-L] question: published on the internet

Jeremy hunsinger jeremy at tmttlt.com
Sun Jul 10 23:34:11 PDT 2011

as for the debate about the definition publishing... I would tend to
start with a definition:

and that really is the question:

what are the operational definitions of publish?

there are minimal definitions that just require dissemination, and
there are maximal definitions that define two whom it must be
disseminated to.

here is the one from dictionary on my computer:

publish |ˈpəbli sh |
verb [ trans. ]
1 (of an author or company) prepare and issue (a book, journal, piece
of music, or other work) for public sale : we publish practical
reference books | [ intrans. ] the pressures on researchers to
• print (something) in a book or journal so as to make it generally
known : we pay $10 for every letter we publish.
• [usu. as adj. ] ( published) prepare and issue the works of (a
particular writer) : a published author.
• formally announce or read (an edict or marriage banns).
See note at announce .
2 Law communicate (a libel) to a third party.

and here is merriam-webster

ub·lish verb \ˈpə-blish\

Definition of PUBLISH

transitive verb
a : to make generally known
b : to make public announcement of
a : to disseminate to the public
b : to produce or release for distribution; specifically : print 2c
c : to issue the work of (an author)
intransitive verb
: to put out an edition
: to have one's work accepted for publication

two me there are three concepts in both of these there is the
publisher (who takes the act of publishing)  there is the work(that
which is published)  and there is the audience (that which it is
published to)  now.... from audience we have 'public' in both
definitions, but not public just 'third party' in the third, which
Alex Halavais pointed out, skews it; but regular dictionaries are
terribly bad at legal definitions sometime, so we'll wait for someone
else to consider that.

so if we take the most basic definition of publishing to be either 'to
make generally known' or 'to disseminate to the public', in the first,
we have the problem of generally and in the latter we have the problem
of dissemination.  both of which are rife with possibility for
construing that a document is not published.

so I return to the original questions:

when is something published on the internet?

does publishing something on the internet make it public?

does making something public necessarily make it not private?

can private information be published and thus be made public?

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