What is Electronic Publishing?


Already firmly established in the consumer sector, electronic publishing is redefining the boundaries between print and digital, still image and video, passive and interactive. Modern digital workflows support almost any form in which content might appear, from traditional print to digital, web, video, and even interactive content. Building in the full spectrum of potential publishing avenues — print, web, video, mobiles and tablets, and interactives — from the beginning is not only a way to streamline production overall, but also to increase the reach of the materials produced by leveraging the content over a wide range of media. If the first revolution in electronic publishing was making publishing platforms accessible to anyone, the next phase is the linking of these platforms together to produce new combinations and new types of content. New concepts like the Online Scholarly Catalog Initiative (OSCI) and Responsive Design will allow that content to be easily archived as well as ported to any device.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • The great value of electronic publishing for museums is the nearly immediate and expanded access to information. All museums are information providers. By placing educational and scholarly content online we make a core mission of our professional practice, learning, in the hands of users across the globe who turn first to mobile, and more so an ecosystem of interconnected devices, in order to discern their world and place in it. - nealstimler nealstimler Feb 14, 2016 +1 - dhegley dhegley Feb 26, 2016
  • I agree with Mr. Stimler and would add that digital publication essentially opens up related opportunities to provide added value to consumers of digital museum content. In particular,annotation and collaborative research and work tools have proliferated in support of the kind of work that researchers wish to do electronically. In short, users can keep their resources and their reactions and work products in the digital domain thus offering a number of critical efficiencies missing in mixed digital/print domains. - njohnson njohnson Feb 25, 2016 +1 - dhegley dhegley Feb 26, 2016- chuck.patch chuck.patch Mar 17, 2016another +1
  • This area is huge and important, and museums are still slow to catch on. I would add that along with electronic publishing to digital platforms, the iterative nature of "print-on-demand" publications is important and remains significantly underutilized by museums. I was just in the new Berkeley Art Museum yesterday and was delighted when Lynne Kimura there (their academic programs educator) offered to send me the electronic version of their catalogue for the opening show. MORE OF THIS, PLEASE!! At my own institution, the Institute of the Arts and Sciences at UC Santa Cruz, we recently published 140 page print-on-demand catalogue for a show that reimagined the university as a museum. This allowed us to do a nice publication for essentially the cost of design, and make it available worldwide, plus, we don't need to store unsold copies, and we won't run out if we need more. We are a start-up operation with a small budget, and this allows us to do a good publication with minimal capital investment. That's huge. Here's the link if you wish to check it out: http://www.amazon.com/Collective-Museum-Collection-University-California/dp/1519767293
    - weberj weberj Feb 27, 2016
  • The OSCI initiative was a great start, but I am disappointed in the pickup rate for this standard. The only toolsets out there are the IMA's (http://www.oscitoolkit.org/about.html) and the improvements on that provided by AIC (http://www.artic.edu/research/digital-publications/online-scholarly-catalogues). It is non-trivial to install these platforms and it's too important to have such a barrier preventing adoption. At the Nelson-Atkins, we are forging ahead with the AIC's version, but I'm worried that the immature state of this technology means we'll be migrating (a benefit of the OSCI design) to some other thing in the future. - dallen dallen
  • (2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?
  • Print publications museums make today for exhibitions, scholarly monographs or introductory literature are made with software. Museums have the capability to pivot more towards electronic publishing now. The shift is conceptual and philosophical, not technical. Furthermore, museums must take more cues for publishing from the commercial sector in terms of employing analytics, design, testing for user experience and engaging with advertising to fund digital publication projects. While initiatives like OSCI played an important role in museums experimenting with electronic publishing, these types of bespoke consortium projects are frequently unsustainable after the initial funding periods. Building electronic publications also necessitates having quality digital assets, structured and interoperable data and production managers that think across platforms. Print production today is costly and inefficient. The information cycle has changed and is accelerating with electronic publishing such as apps, blogs, social media and enhanced websites. Museums need to decisively and quickly move to digital first and digital only workflows with print on demand options available for certain constituencies. Does the museum industry to need build separate tools for ourselves, or can we focus on the humanistic quality of our content and join the information currents already flowing? Can museums reduce their own publishing schedules and inspire constituents to create their own editorial content with museum assets through open access? The digital information reformation has won. Print has gone by way of the manuscript, into obsolescence. - nealstimler nealstimler Feb 14, 2016
  • I have to disagree with Mr. Stimler's suggestion that OSCI publications are prone to becoming "one-offs". On the contrary, the open source and Drupal-based OSCI toolkit developed by IMA Labs and the Art Institute of Chicago and the reusable content publishing template of the National Gallery of Art's OSCI systematic catalog have dramatically increased the ability of museums to make digital publication a regular, scalable, and sustainable endeavor. (full disclosure: I was the project lead on the NGA OSCI project) But I wholeheartedly agree with the strategic importance of avoiding the building of one-off platforms. The OSCI project also provided strong evidence that once you publish digitally, the path to publishing in print if -- if it makes sense to do so -- is relatively shorter than if one did it the other way around and published print first and digital second. - njohnson njohnson Feb 25, 2016
  • My concern is with discovering and/or inventing appropriate distribution channels. While OSCI has a niche (recreate a museum publication online), there are multiple other kinds of content (long form narrative, investigative journalism, photo essays, etc.) for which our sector lacks any kind of agreed-upon methods of distribution. So content stay trapped in internal Word documents (accession proposals, for example) or siphoned off into proprietary formats (Adobe DPS - or whatever they might be calling it this week). Perhaps OSCI can flex to help, but it's more than authoring and publish-to-web, there needs to be a larger network of content-appropriate channels for sharing all of the wonderful information that museums house - literally and figuratively. - dhegley dhegley Feb 26, 2016
  • Doug makes a great point that we're selling ourselves short by narrowly defining the notion of museum publication along solely traditional notions of "curated interpretive content". We need to increase our sense of value in and commitment to a increased availability of a much broader array of potentially useful museum content -- some of it decidedly "uncurated" or composed. There's a connection between this notion and the related technologies around linked data, digital asset/management and more. - njohnson njohnson Feb 27, 2016
  • Doug is right about the challenge of distribution channels. This is an issue for all digital publications - even the scholarly publications targeted at an academic audience like those supported by OSCI. Our research showed that scholars expected to find online scholarly publications listed in research library catalogues (just like a print volume) but academic research libraries don't have a standard process for cataloging epublications. - laura laura Feb 29, 2016
  • The disintermediation of media (Not the newspaper, the story; not the album, the song; not the channel, the show, etc.) may have something to say for the future of ePublishing. I'll probably do better to place individual academic articles in Wikipedia and if people are interested in a broader context, have links back to a chapter or volume available somewhere on-line. This presents a couple of un-solved issues: where should authoritative sources live on the Internet and should we break them up as researchers may only be seeking narrow bits of that whole scholarly collection?- dallen dallen Feb 28, 2016
  • We argue internally about the ability to change or update epublished scholarly information. Should these online resources be living or frozen in time. How do we cite updates and make it easy for people to see new information in context? - dallen dallen
  • Regarding dallen's question above, the National Gallery of Art's OSCI publication embraces an idea that a publication of an essay by a curator providing interpretive context for a work of art is timestamped and retained as an important record of the scholarly thinking in a particular institution at a certain period in time. When the time comes for a revised or entirely re-crafted interpretive text to be published, the older version(s) are retained and presented alongside the most current manifestation. This seems an important set of requirements for persisting open evidence of change in scholarly knowledge and opinion over time. - njohnson njohnson Feb 29, 2016
  • As the editor-in-chief for the Internet Learning Journal, our goal was to take linear, bland, text-based scholarly research and bring it to life. NMC's very own Larry Johnson and Samantha Adams-Becker contributed an article on MOOCs in our first interactive issue (you can access this interactive issue by going to the APP Store on your mobile tablet (iPad, Android)>>search for Internet Learning>>download the Internet Learning Journal app and take a peek at the various types of interactivity we have integrated. The featured article (the last article in this issue, "Visualizing knowledge Networks in Online Courses") is an excellent example of how we took scholarly research that would not otherwise be publishable in traditional digital publishing formats (i.e. pdf, interactive pdf) It's this type of innovation that brings articles to life, tell a story, and allows the reader to engage and interact with the article's content. Initially, we examined commercial digital magazines such as National Geographic, Vanity Fair, Martha Stewart Living, Men's Health, and a host of others and looked for interactive components that we could easily translate to scholarly research. I foresee the capability to develop similar translations in museum-related publications- melissa melissa Mar 1, 2016
  • A huge advantage of paper-based publishing is the low-cost of maintenance after publication. How do we fund a world-wide-access platform for searchable, cite-able electronic publications when their survival requires server farms, electricity and (until we get the virtual assistant thing right) staff? De-centralized e-publications mean a document's persistence is only as good as the localized funding and infrastructure - but at least the cost is distributed. Centralized e-publications have lots of benefits, but we need to figure out the sustainability model. Subscriptions? Ads? Grant or donors (who keeps asking)? - dallen dallen Mar 2, 2016

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on education and interpretation in museums?

  • Electronic publishing has immediate benefits, chief among them helping museums work in iterative publishing cycles where content, edits and updates are built upon, change and improve affordably and at scale. - nealstimler nealstimler Feb 14, 2016
  • As Mr. Stimler has suggested, great efficiencies are to be gained in digital publication of data and information that is fugitive/changeable (e.g., object metadata, bibliographic sources, digital image and other media resources) or about which museum scholarly interpretation is subject to change over time due to new knowledge gained or through scholarly argumentation. In digital form, these materials also become more capable of being discovered, accessed, and used as part of new thinking or published works. Consumers of digital publications also have the potential to extend their interaction with them through add-on tools that permit electronic annotation, group discussion, and more. - njohnson njohnson Feb 25, 2016 +1 - dhegley dhegley Feb 26, 2016- dallen dallen Feb 28, 2016
  • Yields opportunities to work collaboratively, iteratively, and bring content producers together in ways that traditional publishing can't. For museum interpretation, digital publishing allows for more participation from readers/users in shaping the content or breaking down barriers between the author/curator and the museum community. Responsive designs of digital publication also allows for the threshold of the museum to dissolve--readers can access content on multiple platforms or simply peruse at home if something piques their interest in the museum. - emily_fry emily_fry Feb 26, 2016 +1 - dhegley dhegley Feb 26, 2016
  • AND HEY, IT IS AFFORDABLE!!!- weberj weberj Feb 27, 2016- chuck.patch chuck.patch Mar 17, 2016 Yes. And despite the static nature of printed publication, there are plenty of situations where people would like to have a paper publication. More exploration of the print-on-demand potential for museum publications seems warranted, not simply for out-of-print work, but for new material, perhaps taking more advantage of commercial outlets like Blurb
  • I foresee digital publishing potentially impacting scholarly research in museum-related academic publications.- melissa melissa Mar 1, 2016

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?


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