ElectraPress, Moving Forward

(crossposted from ElectraPress)

As I mentioned sometime back, things have been happening behind the scenes at ElectraPress, and all that set-building and light-hanging has prevented me from being able to do much in the way of actual performing there, in front of the curtain.

But now, at last, I can fill you in on what’s been going on. Back in January, after the “On the Future of Academic Publishing, Peer Review, and Tenure Requirements” post ran at The Valve, I was invited to New York to visit the Institute for the Future of the Book, and particularly to have some conversations with Bob Stein, the Institute’s founder, about how I imagined ElectraPress developing, and where I wanted to see it go.

In the course of our talks, Bob proposed an alliance, one I happily accepted. We’re working together to establish an all-electronic scholarly press, to be hosted by the Annenberg Center for Communication at USC (where the Institute is likewise housed). We imagine that this press will, for the time being, focus in the area of media studies; the projects that the press will publish will take many forms, many different lengths, and many different structures, but all will be “born digital,” and all will be rigorously peer reviewed — though through a newly reimagined peer review system that will make use of the network in its process.

We are now in the thick of imagining how this press might be structured, how it might function, and, most importantly, how it might transform scholarly communication. We’re trying to think both idealistically and pragmatically, puzzling through how we can create a publishing system that allows for the greatest possible range of innovation while still maintaining a broad level of acceptance within current academic structures. To that end, we’re holding a meeting in late April, bringing together a group of faculty and technologists, folks working in English, Media Studies, Film, and Information Science, to spend a day thinking out loud about the future of electronic scholarly publishing and the possibilities presented by ElectraPress.

But given that one of our hopes is to spend this meeting thinking about what happens when academic writing becomes fully networked — and not least what kinds of conversations among scholars might spring up in the process — we thought we’d begin our discussions now, online.

Moreover, we want to bring as many people into these conversations as possible, particularly people like you who have a stake in the outcome of our discussion. We wished that it were possible to get everybody who’s interested around that table in late April, though we simply couldn’t. But what the realities of facilities and funding make impossible, the network allows us to circumvent. We’ve set up an online conference on the Institute for the Future of the Book’s server, hoping to use the month between now and the meeting to stimulate as many ideas about electronic scholarly publishing as possible.

I’d like to ask you all to join us there soon, and continuing over the course of the next few weeks, so that we can begin thinking together about the kinds of projects that ElectraPress will be building upon and the kinds of possibilities that are ahead of us.

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