New Examples

There has been no shortage of innovation in web-based publishing in the last five years, and this certainly includes web-based S/scholarship that is difficult to count on a CV. That the innovations persist is certainly not surprising. In 2002, many people had not yet heard of blogs or wikis: how time flies.

Briefly, let me mention four new examples of web-only publications that might raise questions about S/scholarship as I discussed it in the original article:

I think it's also worth noting two other trends in academic publishing since this article was originally published.

First, there have been a number of writers in both the academic and the trade book market who have simultaneously published their work in traditional print and electronically. I have already mentioned Benkler's wiki. John Logie's Peers, Pirates, and Persuasion: Rhetoric in the Peer-to-Peer Debates is available via Parlor Press as a traditional print book, an eBook, and as a free PDF, though this does not appear to be the general practice at Parlor Press. My assumption is that given the topic of Logie's book, both the author and publisher agreed that it made sense to offer it for free. Prolific blogger, science fiction writer, and internet activist Cory Doctorow has also made all of his books available via his web site. Again, given Doctorow's work advocating open source publishing and internet file sharing, this is perhaps not surprising.

Second, there has been at least some signs that academic publishers are interested in changing their standard practices for conducting business. The most visible example of this to date is Connexions, a relaunched version of the formerly dormant Rice University Press. Connexions presents itself as a fairly traditional content management system: with a few simple steps, anyone who creates an account can publish their work and have that worked distributed from the web site. However, writers who want to have their work reviewed and then available for on-demand printing have follow the guidelines outlined on the Rice University Press web site. Currently, the press is focusing on books on the topic of art history, and it lists two 2006 releases on its publications page.

What's interesting about these developments is that they seem to be methodologies for more or less solving the problem of making web sites count as the work we do to get tenure and promotion, while simultaneously allowing writers to release their Scholarship (the practice of engaging in work that furthers knowledge in our fields) in electronic form to a wider audience. Obviously, neither Logie's nor Doctorow's work are the same as self-published web sites since it is possible to obtain and read the very traditionally printed books from these authors; books that the publishers agreed to print after a traditional negotiation and editorial process. On the other hand, I think the logic of simultaneous traditional and electronic publishing builds upon the logic of self-published scholarly web sites and has great potential in academic publishing, where the books tend to be expensive and difficult to find. Further, the Rice University Press Connexions project makes it clear that it is possible for academic publishers to support both vetted and self-published S/scholarship.