9.597 online publishing

Humanist (mccarty@phoenix.Princeton.EDU)
Fri, 1 Mar 1996 18:30:14 -0500 (EST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 9, No. 597.
Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities (Princeton/Rutgers)
Information at http://www.princeton.edu/~mccarty/humanist/

[1] From: siemens@arts.ubc.ca (46)
Subject: Re: 9.591 incentives for online publishing

The conversation surrounding the issue of 'incentives for online
publishing' raises some very pertinent issues. Costis Dallas comments

>In my mind, electronic mail to colleagues abroad will not be an
>adequate incentive for an online connection. The real issue lies
>with what information will be available on line for scholars to use.

Willard McCarty replies (in part, and further below),

>Exactly. The question is, how do we encourage the development of such

There is, all things taken into account, a considerable (and rapidly
growing) amount of scholarly content on the internet, but the potential
remains very large and, as yet, unrealised. As views towards what
constitutes a 'proper' publication medium and method (from, say, the
perspective of departmental hiring, appraisal, and review committees, as
well as others) increasingly recognise the internet as a viable outlet for
scholarly work, so will this potential be realised. We encourage
development chiefly, I believe, from change within; HUMANIST and other
internet-based scholarly resources have already had, and will continue to
have, much influence on this change.

The quality of what is published/available on the internet today clearly
also has much to do with this change, as Willard notes:

>On the one hand, it seems clear that the user needs to know
>whether what he or she has on screen is worth spending time puzzling over.

Peer review has typically assisted in this, but what is sometimes
overlooked in the world of electronic publishing is that qualitative
assessment is not the only function of peer review: such a process, via the
scholarly publication houses that employ it, also adds at the same time
what we might in the electronic world call a 'navigatability' to the
information that it ultimately approves for publication.

I agree strongly that

>Given a disciplined self,
>self-publication can be (a) a powerful inducement for our colleagues to get
>involved, and (b) a way of getting into the public light interesting,
>valuable material that otherwise would stay in darkness. The more
>conversational (like Humanist), the more experimental the less peer-review
>seems appropriate.

but I hesitate, somewhat, when I think of the application of this ideal
without some retention of navigatability. Maybe I should rephrase this; to
problematize Costis Dallas' comment that

>The real issue lies
>with what information will be available on line for scholars to use.

let me add that another related issue lies with what scholars _can find_ of
relevance to their interests from within the information available online.

This may be a naive question, but how do we effectively manage, from
qualitative/evaluative and (more to my intended line of inquiry)
'navigative' standpoints, materials which are self-published?

Ray Siemens