9.531 e-publishing

Humanist (mccarty@phoenix.Princeton.EDU)
Mon, 12 Feb 1996 23:44:49 -0500 (EST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 9, No. 531.
Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities (Princeton/Rutgers)
Information at http://www.princeton.edu/~mccarty/humanist/

[1] From: "Richard L. Goerwitz III" <richard@mithra- (23)
Subject: Re: 9.528 promises, promises

[2] From: "John M. Unsworth" <jmu2m@virginia.edu> (27)
Subject: Re: 9.528 promises, promises

Date: Sat, 10 Feb 1996 00:30:36 -0600 (CST)
From: "Richard L. Goerwitz III" <richard@mithra-orinst.uchicago.edu>
Subject: Re: 9.528 promises, promises

> After pondering on where this genius might lie, I am wondering if it isn't
> wiser to think about taking advantage of the transitory nature of
> e-publishing to use it for that which we wish to be transitory.

There's nothing inherent in the medium that makes it transitory. Publica-
tions can be refereed online as well as anywhere else. E-docs can be stored
by libraries. People can read them online, or print them out.

What is most transitory about e-docs is that the formats we struggle to put
them in are often obsolete within a few years.

We all just need to sit back and relax. In a decade or so all of these
problems will have been better ironed out.

For now, I use the Internet as a way to distribute publications that would
be hard to get published by other means, mainly because their subject mat-
ter or target audience is too narrow to make publication cost-effective.
For an example, take a look at the PostScript copy of the pamphlet I hand
out to my second-year Hebrew students:


I doubt any publisher would be interested in this pamphlet, because it is
geared specifically for people living here on Chicago's south side. In
fact, it is geared specifically for my students.


-Richard L. Goerwitz *** *** r-goerwitz@uchicago.edu

--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------ Date: Sat, 10 Feb 1996 21:41:27 -0500 (EST) From: "John M. Unsworth" <jmu2m@virginia.edu> Subject: Re: 9.528 promises, promises


A couple of thoughts on link rot, interim publishing, and the right uses of the web/net.

There is a technical solution to the problem of documents changing their addresses on the web, and it's been around for a while: URNs (uniform resource numbers) to replace URLs (uniform resource locators). URLs give a literal location--a machine name and a path. URNs would be unique numbers assigned to each document and registered in a database that would function like the hostnames database now does--propagated automatically around the net every 24 hours or so. I'm no expert in the engineering of this, but I can think of several explanations for why URNs haven't yet become our reality: first, referring every link to an interim database/registry would slow things down, it would seem; second, authors would have to *agree* to register their documents, or (even if some web spider went out and found the docs and registered them automatically) would have to tell someone when they moved or went away; with millions and millions of documents already out there, this would be a very big, unwieldy database; and finally, everyone is already using URLs, which creates a certain inertia, even if URNs make more sense.

On interim publishing: I think we have been doing a lot more of that, we humanists, in the last decade, through email lists like this one, and through other networked mechanisms. On the other hand, there's no reason that the network can't host both interim and long-term publishing: the problems in the latter case are institutional rather than technical, aren't they?

John Unsworth ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ http://www.village.virginia.edu/~jmu2m/ jmu2m@virginia.edu