walkitout (walkitout) wrote,
walkitout
walkitout

underpants gnomes, or, I love my life, etc. redux

I've been wandering around reading about university presses, partly for the humor, but also because I find it perversely entertaining to watch the sausage that I Love So Much be made. Yesterday, when I was busy making fun of some of the blue-sky types, I was concerned that sanity might not be prevailing in university presses. However, once I stumbled upon the trade association, I decided sanity _was_ prevailing. This slide show was particularly heartening.

http://aaupblog.aaupnet.org/?p=198

http://aaupnet.org/programs/annualmeeting/2010/pratt.pdf

Basically, some New World Archaeologists were trying to figure out how to do digital monographs. They had a grant and they have a variety of participating university presses. Pratt uses the underpants gnomes joke to show the disconnect between what they were trying to accomplish (digital monograph) and where they wanted to go (profit). As a result of this disconnect, they switched focus from technical innovation to business innovation (aha!), and learned a few things about underpants. Slide 7 is particularly good:

The people (archaeologists) wanted this done
They had to limit the juicy multimedia goodness ("We are going to have to set strict
parameters regarding enhancements and how they are incorporated")
Senior scholars not junior would have to be leading the way

Really very shockingly sensible of these people.

They figure if they can come up with a channel agnostic (works on iPad or kindle or wherever) and XML based publishing workflow, they'll be in business, especially if it turns out to work for disciplines other than New World Archaeology.

All good stuff. Sanity may yet prevail. Slowly.
Tags: academic publishing
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