Blog Post

Publishing at DH2017 (Montréal)

Paragraphe bookstore in downtown Montréal

As the Fall 2017 semester flashes by, my thoughts continue to turn to the lively DH2017 meeting in August and my 42 pages(!) of notes (typing helps my brain stay alert in long, intense days of back-to-back sessions). I have posted general takeaways elsewhere; here I wanted to share some specific items of potential interest to Publishing Makerspace.

The conference demonstrated a wide variety of computational, visual, and interactive scholarship that demands new modes of publication.  The somewhat random developments that follow might not be news to anyone at this point, but taken together, they remind us that scholarly publishing in its current form is seen by practitioners of DH as a barrier to growth and innovation.  Fortunately, scholars continue to innovate anyway, while publishing experiments attempt to respond; the challenge is to systematize the new modes of publication. (From a recent talk at FHI, I learned that when I decry the non-interoperability of DH, publishing, and library systems, I am practicing "critical infrastructure studies"!) 

Now, back to those various scattered items:

  • Mellon Schol-Com grants focus on digital publishing outside the traditional press framework: (1) University of Illinois is studying how emerging tools and services align with scholars’ publishing needs and will make recommendations. (2) Brown University is establishing guidelines to evaluate digital scholarship at the department level. (3) Greenhouse Studios, a digital-humanities creative space in the U Conn library, had almost finished its construction phase in August; you can now see it here
  • Stanford University Press has established a publishing program for interactive digital monographs, funded by Mellon. (Enchanting the Desert, which was published in 2016, was the first; there are six more to come through 2019, so far.) 
  • Digital Literary Studies is a journal at Portland State University that aims to publish digital/multimodal work. However, it appears that the journal articles include screenshots rather than interactive illustrations. The journal does offer to store digital work in an institutional repository.
  • The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians (JAS) will publish an article including an interactive computer model by Lisa Snyder of UCLA (publisher is UC Press).  She described an “arduous process” to publish her 3D digital work in a peer-reviewed journal.  The 2016 position papers at this site are a good summary of the situation regarding 3D scholarship:
  • UCLA has been funded by the NEH to build the VSim Archive and Repository for 3D content, and the design includes both a standard for distribution (VSim) and a mechanism to embargo content during the peer-review process. The project is scheduled to be launched in Fall 2017.  Potentially, scholarly publications could include outbound links to this repository.
  • An interactive poetry book entitled Abra (authors are Amaranth Borsuk, Kate Durbin, and Ian Hatcher), which is both a physical book (with electronic ink) and an iOS app, won an EU-funded prize “Turn On Literature: Using Libraries to Bring New Audiences to Digital Literature.” Here is an early demo:  This is an example of the work associated with the Electronic Literature Organization, which has its own conference and is active at MLA.
  • Unfortunately, centerNet’s journal, DHCommons, which was announced with fanfare in 2015, has very little content or activity (with the exception of the “How Did They Make That” section).  This is what happens when a journal consists only of a platform and does not have dedicated editorial staff. 

BTW, I live-tweeted the conference.  @SylviaKMiller #dh2017


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