« March 2006 | Main | May 2006 »

April 24, 2006

Transliteracies Project

In the interests of stressing a connection between Transliteracies and our meeting, I'll post its operative description of online reading here instead of under "related projects":

""Online reading" may be defined as the experience of "text-plus" media by individuals and groups in digital, networked information environments. The "plus" indicates the zone of negotiation--of mutation, adaptation, cooptation, hybridization, etc.--by which the older dialogue among print, writing, orality, and audiovisual media commonly called "text" enters into new relations with digital media and with networked communication technologies."

April 23, 2006

more website ideas

sorry to be jumping in late here, but a couple of websites (actually a few essays within these sites) I enjoy and think might make for interesting models to consider (for better or worse) are (forgive me if I repeat something someone else has already suggested. I am repeatedly denied access to your comments):

Jump Cut

Screenpedia - Jeremy Butler's new site

Flow - not shameless self-promotion, I swear. This early piece by Henry Jenkins was actually something we wish we had done more of:

Monday's Agenda

Our instincts are to spend a good deal of the meeting, at least through lunch, being fairly expansive and open-ended. If possible, forget constraints for a few hours and consider what you would really want as the components of an electronic press. We do understand that there are serious constraints, including time, money and institutional conservatism, and that any enterprise of this sort involves compromise, but let's first identify what is most crucial to such an endeavor, and what it is we value most highly, in order to be conscious of the compromises we may have to make and why. This is the dreaming portion of the day.

Questions to discuss in the morning:

-- What problems are we aiming to solve by establishing an electronic press?

-- How might peer review be re-imagined in a peer-to-peer network environment?

-- How might academic publishing be reinvented as a gift culture? What are you willing to do for free? To give away? What do we stand to gain by taking an open source approach?

-- How much does accessibility have to do with the overall value of scholarship?

-- How might an electronic press help redeploy intellectual capital to the world beyond academia in ways the current print-based system is unable to do?

-- What kinds of projects would you like to see this press take on? What new forms of scholarship can you imagine taking flight from a born digital press?

After lunch we'd like to explore some concrete questions that we know we'll have to have answers to if we're going to be as innovative as possible while also being sustainable, and without losing the reasonably broad acceptance necessary to make a difference. This is the pragmatics portion of the day:

-- When we talk about establishing a press, are we talking about something that will conform to current scholarly conventions and processes such as peer review, tenure and promotion criteria, or something that will challenge -- even reinvent -- those conventions? If the latter, how do we make such change palatable to basically conservative bureaucratic systems? What else is out there that is already challenging those conventions? What is to be learned, borrowed, improved?

-- Many different approaches have been taken toward the notion of publishing scholarly work online, ranging from venues that distribute electronic versions of texts that maintain all of the structure and format of print, to those that aim at the production of new forms of critical discourse. Among the virtues of the former is a kind of backwards compatibility, easing a nervous academy into a new mode of publishing; among the virtues of the latter, of course, is radically opening the academy to new forms of work altogether. How might we reconcile or combine these approaches in the most productive way?

-- This press needs to be at least largely self-sustaining. What kinds of financial models should we consider as we move forward?

-- What kinds of workflow and production models should we consider establishing? Very pragmatically: how will the work get done? What will the role of the editorial/advisory board be? Whom should we ask to join us?

Please feel encouraged to challenge, reformulate or add to these questions. We've only got one day and want to make the most of it.

April 19, 2006

Pre-Agenda Request

Still working on the agenda for monday. In the meantime if you have a chance please post as a comment the URL for a really good example of something published electronically:

- assume a broad definition of "published"
- example can be inside or outside of the academic realm
- no need to limit yourself to only one if you have multiple good examples

On Repositories

A very interesting post today by Jill Walker on institutional repositories, their benefits, and the ways that they fall short of the ideal networked publication archive she'd like. There's of course a key difference between the repository and the kind of publishing environment that we're imagining -- the repository is a somewhat secondary storage facility for the publications of a cluster of scholars, rather than a primary locus of publishing in and of itself -- but I think there's still much to consider in the issues that Jill raises.

April 17, 2006

The Wealth of Networks

Another project I'd like to bring our attention to: Yochai Benkler's new book, The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom, has just been released by Yale University Press. Benkler has also made the book available in PDF format, and has created a wiki for the text, allowing for a different kind of interaction between readers and this text:

The basic idea is to make this Wiki a place where people who read the book can do at least four things. First, collaborate on writing a summary of the ideas and claims of the book, as an initial point of entry. Second, provide an easy platform through which to access underlying research materials: both those used in the book's notes, and more importantly, resources that are useful for further research, refinement, and updating. Third, the Wiki should be a place where participants can describe, link to, and analyze examples of the phenomena the book describes. The purpose is not to "make the case" for the book or find "gotcha" counter examples. What we are trying to do is provide a real research tool, annotated bibliography, and platform for collaborative learning. Examples and counter-examples should be selected and described with that purpose in mind. Fourth, the Wiki is itself a learning platform about what is valuable in a learning platform. Through separate pages devoted to ideas and experiments of what can be done with an online book to make it a learning platform, we hope to expand the range of uses to which this Wiki can be available.

In certain ways, a wiki is of course the ideal format for such a project, allowing as it does for multiple, collaborative authorship and a relatively boundless expansion. But the wiki seems also to maintain a separation between the primary text and its related paratexts -- here are the static PDFs from which the author speaks, and here are the malleable wiki pages on which readers chime in. How might we imagine bringing those voices into closer conversation?

April 10, 2006

NEH Digital Humanities Initiative

In a few days we'll see the official public unveiling of the NEH Digital Humanities Initiative, which will no doubt include commentary on online publishing.

From the Washington Post (March 30, 2006):

The panel reviewed the National Endowment for the Humanities' proposed budget, which is $141 million, last year's appropriation. Bruce Cole, NEH chairman, said the funds would continue the current programs and start a new program on "digital humanities." He said the humanities endowment wanted to be a catalyst between the public and the researchers "to help narrow the gap between the scholar and the citizen." An NEH initiative has now put 30 million pages of historic documents and history texts online.

Learning from the Related Projects

I'm sorry that things have been so quiet around here lately; I'm sure you're all facing a late-spring time-crunch right about now as well. I'd like, though, to attempt to get us talking a bit more (all of us, if we can!), by looking closely at some of the projects that we've proposed as bearing some relation to the electronic academic press we're hoping to found. We've created a list of some such projects in the right-hand sidebar (and I'll be adding more suggested projects to it shortly). Please take a look at some of these projects, and then come back here to post some of your thoughts about them. What about these projects should we learn from? What is the greatest strength of these projects, technologically, structurally, intellectually, or otherwise? How would those models be applicable to our plans? How would they need to be modified? What in those projects might be improved upon? Where might we form strategic links and relationships?

I'll look forward to hearing from all of you!