9.535 H-NET as publisher

Humanist (mccarty@phoenix.Princeton.EDU)
Tue, 13 Feb 1996 19:14:46 -0500 (EST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 9, No. 535.
Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities (Princeton/Rutgers)
Information at http://www.princeton.edu/~mccarty/humanist/

[1] From: "H-Net Central: Humanities On- (84)
Subject: Re: HUMANIST digest 116

Willard asks what HUMANIST is missing by not being part of
H-Net. Let me say straightaway that the original model and
inspiration for H-Net back in the early 1990s came from HUMANIST.
We are now three years old and have grown and changed a lot.
H-Net now publishes 51 lists, with a dozen more in "affiliated"
status (these are mostly in economics), and a dozen in startup
stages. We cover most history topics since the middle ages, and
would like to expand into literature and other humanities fields.

H-Net as an organization is run by the editors and staff
(180 people), who elect officers, staff committees and have
extensive internal discussions. They get together in person at
our own annual conventions and annual training sessions. The
editors (unpaid volunteers) and the paid staff (mostly graduate
students) are motivated by the excitement of building a new
information infrastructure for the humanities, and of course the
daily excitement of working with new people and new ideas and new

H-Net Central creates new lists (or affiliates with
established ones), selects the editors and editorial boards,
evaluates the lists, and raises money. We have major support from
Michigan State University, grants from NEH and the Japan
Foundation, and significant support from Kansai Institute of
Asia-Pacific Studies (KIAPS, at Osaka U. of Foreign Studies), the
Australian government, and a number of other universities in the
USA, Canada, Australia and Europe.

Thanks to these grants, H-Net has a paid technical staff
that handles many chores, like setting up lists, gophers and www
pages, handling errors and solving problems. Having our own
server and technical people has proven a major advantage. The
editors of each list have considerable autonomy, and considerable
help. They also have editorial boards, affiliations with
scholarly societies, and sometimes cash budgets that H-Net helps
to obtain. For the last two years we paid travel for all the
editors to our annual meeting (held just before the American
Historical Association convention in January). We train new
editors and provide help lines, so that H-Net editors can
concentrate on substance. Most of the lists have a book review
editor, and some are reviewing software and scholarly articles.
(We have a separate list H-REVIEW for the reviews). Some lists
are doing retrospective reviews--for example, H-RURAL just spent
several weeks looking at a 1966 book by Eugene Genovese (and
Genovese responded graciously and in great detail). H-POL is
doing a seminar on the nominating process in American politics,
with commissioned mini-essays, and H-URBAN is running a special
list for its graduate seminar on housing.

H-Net facilitates crossposting among the lists, and provides
regular news feeds that the editors can use if they wish--for
example, two weekly job guides, and a weekly report on doings in
Washington that affect the humanities. We publish occasional
guides to the Internet. We help our editors deal with deans,
departments chairs, computer centers and foundations. (There is
real money out there for humanities computing, but you have to
ask.) We are setting up international operations in Europe,
Australia and Japan, and have plans for a large program in
Africa. We have run 18 training workshops around the world, with
more scheduled this year in Honolulu, Virginia and Osaka. We
have a large project underway to scan and OCR historical texts,
and are hosting a conference in Chicago next month on the impact
of the Internet on book reviewing for history journals.

We have 38,000 subscribers right now and are adding several
thousand a month. (Taking account of multiple subscriptions,
this comes to about 27,000 people.) About half our readers are
historians. As of December 1995, about 22% of all history
professors in the USA were H-Net subscribers, and about 29% of
graduate students. We have been discussing many other projects,
like much expanded www services, and on-line journals.

These projects owe their success to the synergistic effect
of editors from different lists helping each other and working
together to create new projects...and to the rather simple
imperative: "organize!" Our biggest problem is that we need more
volunteers. H-Net is a friendly and equalitarian organization
that welcomes graduate students and senior professors. We need
volunteers to set up new lists and work on old ones. Anyone
interested should drop me a note.

As for HUMANIST, I really hope we can get an affiliation
going. The list can retain its intellectual autonomy and at the
same time get technical helpers and, most of all, join in a
common revolutionary enterprise.

Richard Jensen
H-Net Executive Director

For more detailed information on H-Net, send this message to
or write us at: H-NET@H-NET.msu.edu