Publishing Makerspace Proposal

Publishing Makerspace: A Working Group Topic for the Scholarly Communication Institute’s Scholarship and the Crowd Workshop (March 2014 proposal)

Submitted by Courtney Berger, Rebecca Kennison, John D. Martin, Sylvia Miller, David Phillips, Chelcie Rowell

Our core questions

What legacy will this digital age provide in drawing from new forms of digital scholarship, new presentation methods, and new online platforms that enable scholarship that expands beyond the academy and enters into dialogue with various publics? What will the results of such experimentation look like, and how can we harness existing tools to make the spaces we create with these tools relevant and engaging, in the process forming new hybrid scholarly/public digital communities?

Our objectives

We seek a boundary space and zone, a publishing ‘makerspace’ to contemplate the meaning and future of publishing, expanding its definition to include that which renders information public. We envision such a space as embracing and encouraging new multi-modal forms of scholarship that incorporate the perspectives of multiple audiences. We envision three avenues for exploration and innovation:

  • an examination and critique of the ways in which engaged scholars, archivists, and audiences currently come together to create communities of online scholarship and pedagogy
  • an experimentation with tools, stemming from our critique, that can creatively transform scholarly and publicly sourced content into multi-modal online resources of durable utility
  • a second stage of post-experimentation critique in which we critically examine the ways in which these newly envisioned transformational tools and content have the capacity to both facilitate and constrain our aims.

The latter aims include a focus on stretching the boundaries of publishing and scholarly communication to produce active, participatory online spaces, professionally distributed publications, and discoverable archives with interwoven project outcomes. In determining productive approaches to re-thinking the processes behind the creation of such spaces, we aim to examine how a working project website with an ever-widening team of contributors seamlessly logistical and technical barriers that exist today?

The metaphor of the ‘makerspace’ would operate on two levels for our Working Group: first, as a makerspace in which we critique and evaluate design, and second as the aspirational makerspace we hope to design and create in which members of many other publics actually do the making, both separately and in collaboration with scholars. The SCI itself would offer our cross-functional team a makerspace in which to critique from multiple professional perspectives a wide range of existing tools and electronic publishing platforms including Scalar, WordPress (including CommentPress and Commons in a Box), DH Press, Smashwords, Kindle, Open Journal Systems, BePress, Omeka, MediaWiki and Curatescape. Our critique would examine platforms and tools using a range of criteria including the ability to effectively link and cross-relate data, the ability to create highly accessible archives and databases that make full use of metadata to allow for self-generating content areas, and ease of navigation and facile design that invites full engagement and participation by multiple audiences. It would also examine innovative ways in which organizational strategies are applied to form online communities that move beyond the constraints of academia, such as HASTAC, which is an alliance that both crosses traditional disciplines and “the boundaries of academe and community,” among other boundaries. These goals are all key to creating a zone of engagement between scholars and the Crowd that effectively fosters multi-directional dialogue.

A deep critique will give us the freedom to wrangle some of the problems that collaborations between publishers and libraries often have little opportunity to address, such as how to collectively pursue best practices in rights management and the use of metadata.   Typically, libraries and publishers often work in parallel rather than collaboratively, approaching similar problems with different arrays of solutions. Our intent in this collaboration is to actively engage these problems by taking into account both of these perspectives and the advantages that can be gained by creating synergy between them.   At the same time, such specificity of critique and problem-solving cannot be achieved without a meta-dialogue on the goals and principles of our experimentation process in which we discuss what scholars and reading communities really want and need as new publishing formats, as well as consider with which publics we should engage when we consider the public good and the Crowd.

In addressing the gap between traditional scholarship and digital scholarship, our working group seeks to design a makerspace that makes use of new forms of digital engagement as well as new strategies for digital community building. The makerspace we envision would take advantage of multiple inputs, crowdsourcing, and interactive environments. The tools that we critique and explore will form the basis for constructing digital environments that enable broader interchanges across audiences. Intentional design goals will encourage dialogue across academic and public boundaries, taking advantage of the opportunity to establish the Makerspace as a place of engagement that includes community building, collaborative publishing and archiving.

Relationship of our topic to this year’s theme

In response to the questions posed for the theme of Scholarship and the Crowd, we see the following possibilities for investigation:

  • In exploring ways in which digital ‘spaces’ can be created that collect, disseminate and preserve information, we are eager to explore shifting uses and meanings of archives and curated content, expanding to include multi-model forms of preservation and representation.
  • In embracing evolving technologies and utilizing new visualization and digital publishing tools, we anticipate challenges and opportunities that, in the spirit of the digital humanities, enable the discovery of new ways of exploring, representing and interpreting knowledge.
  • In addressing the challenges of reaching out to larger and more diverse audiences that span the divide between academe and society at large, we imagine the creation of digital spaces that establish models for community building that spans these perceived barriers. The process of engaging multiple audiences requires an interrogation and exploration of evolving meanings of the term ‘audience’ in a digital age.
  • In expanding the realm of public humanities to include co-authored and co-created content that is both a product of these communities and a source for deeper public engagement, we envision opportunities for increasing the utility of digital public scholarship that has much greater utility for a broader range of audiences.

Results and outcomes of workshop participation

We are excited at the possibilities that will be provided by our exploration of this year’s theme within our Working Group. In addition to building on the knowledge gained in this workshop to more effectively and deeply engage publics in each of our ongoing projects (see descriptions of Working Group members’ interests and current projects), we foresee a number of concrete results of our work:

  • An experimental project website that models the goals we are pursuing
  • A new protocol for creating an ‘open knowledge’ platform for digital scholarship
  • A white paper that explores how new digital technologies, platforms, visualization and publishing tools can be combined in makerspaces that reach out to new audiences and expand the meaning of the digital commons and its publics, including a ‘how to’ kit for merging digital scholarly platforms and exploring alternatives to open access and open source web publishing
  • An expansion, drawing from the range of expertise of our working group members, of the disciplinary and professional realms in which publishing makerspaces can be formed; such realms include new forms of digital scholarship and new ‘hybrid’ digital platforms and publishing environments that encourage public participation, engagement, and contributions, and that enlarge the scope of scholarly activity to embrace multiple publics
  • An evolving portfolio of projects that takes full advantage of these tools of digital scholarship

Additional outcomes could include a list of goals and specific needs to be met for interoperability, the conceptualization and definition of a new rubric for scholarly digital engagement with various publics and Crowds, along with a catalog of new and revised tools. For example, online images and video need a standardized way to carry their rights metadata with them; the participating Crowd needs specific guidelines on copyright that are clear and simple; InDesign needs to be able to output Epub.

We would like to develop a complete description of these tools by the end of the workshop. In the year following the workshop, we are committing to refining our project website, contributing web-based projects and visualizations that utilize experimental platforms, and providing the content to make these resources broadly relevant to other scholarly projects with similar aims.

Just as importantly, we see the Workshop as an experimental, exploratory space in which we will establish a much more profound understanding of the role that digital humanities projects can have in innovating with engaging contributions to public scholarship that revolutionize digital spaces. We anticipate outcomes through our white paper and our ongoing work following the workshop to collaboratively explore and elucidate methodologies and means for contributing to the formation and enrichment of digital communities, including hybrid communities that work across academic and community boundaries.

Our Working Group Team

Each member of our team has deep expertise in one or more areas of scholarly communications and extensive experience in role-bending and boundary-crossing.

Courtney Berger ( is an acquisitions editor at Duke University Press, and in July 2014 she will assume the position of Senior Editor and Editorial Department Manager. She acquires widely across the humanities and social sciences and also contributes to the development of new digital publications and publishing programs, such as the Press’s first e-only book, Speculate This!, as well as Scalar projects and other digital companions and extensions of traditional book publications. She is interested in forging connections between academic book publishing and other forms of scholarly communication in order to create and sustain interdisciplinary scholarly communities. In her management capacity at the Press, she is involved in the creation of permissions and rights protocol for book publications (including fair use advocacy) and in developing metadata practices that will make the Press’s publications readily available and useful to scholars and researchers.

Marjorie Fowler, Digital Asset Coordinator, UNC Press

Marjorie Fowler ( has worked for the University of North Carolina Press ( since 1974. Starting as a part-time typesetter in the Production /Design Department, her job description at the Press has changed every several years as the technology of publishing has evolved.  She took an early lead in the development of using computers for publishing, not only at the UNC Press but also as part of the university campus and as a member of other state and national groups. Currently she is Digital Asset Coordinator, and works with all the departments at the Press as administrator of the UNC Press digital asset management system, collectionPoint.  Her job includes management of digital conversions and archiving, working with others on the press-wide database, and handling all aspects of electronic publishing projects, including two back-into-print publishing programs Enduring Editions and DocSouth Books, as well as e-books.  Over the years, she has been active in a variety of professional organizations, including the American Association of  University Presses, the Association of American Publishers, and the Society for Scholarly Publishers.  For the last 10 years she has served as chair of the Scholarly Communications Working Group at UNC – Chapel Hill. Marjorie has a wealth of experience with the details of university press publishing, along with a proven ability to see the big picture and envision the future.

Rebecca Kennison (, Director of Center for Digital Research and Scholarship, Columbia University. Rebecca’s primary objective for the Center is to facilitate scholarly research and the communication of that research through technology solutions. Rebecca oversees a fully developed library-based publishing operation, which includes managing the research repository Academic Commons (run on a Fedora-Solr- Blacklight technology stack); hosting two dozen online journals (using Open Journals Systems, WordPress, or a combination of the two) and several conferences (using Open Conference Systems); and working with faculty and students to create non-linear multi-modal projects, such as Dangerous Citizens (built on a homegrown XSLT platform), Women Film Pioneers Project (customized WordPress), and (launching in June) a revitalized Digital Dante (WordPress and CommentPress). Rebecca is the co-principal investigator, along with the Modern Language Association’s Kathleen Fitzpatrick, on an National Endowment for the Humanities grant to create a seamless BuddyPress-Fedora interface that will provide a scalable repository backend to MLA Commons, with the ultimate aim to extend that system to serve other humanities societies’ needs for a similar technology stack. Rebecca also recently co-authored a white paper (“A Scalable and Sustainable Approach to Open Access Publishing and Archiving for Humanities and Social Sciences”) that proposes a new, comprehensive Open Access model for all of scholarly publishing. Long an advocate for embracing technology to achieve greater access to knowledge, she was the very first employee at PLOS; the scalable throughput workflow that has made PLOS ONE such a success was her parting gift to the organization.

John D. Martin III ( is an ELIME-21 doctoral fellow in the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His primary area of research is information behavior related to digital media piracy. He previously worked as a system administrator at the National Antiquities Museum in Cairo, Egypt to document and provide digital access to the museum’s catalog records of its collection. Additionally, John has worked as a contractor at the American University in Cairo (AUC) on their Digital Archive and Research Repository (DARR) and development intern for the website of the Rare Books and Special Collections Library (RBSCL). Part of what makes him a strong member of our team effort to create a publishing ‘makerspace’ are his research interests and experience encompassing multiple facets of digital publishing, namely alternative modes for access and publication, digital information sharing behavior, remix culture and free/open culture movements, replicable research workflows, and distributed version control for content creation. His current work includes streamlining processes for creating content and reporting research using a combination of git for version control, R/Sweave and Python/Pweave for analysis, and Markdown/XML/LaTeX for typesetting and document creation. The long-term goal of these efforts, which will be of interest to the broader cohort of participants in the Scholarship and the Crowd workshop, is to develop methods and training opportunities to help other social science and humanities researchers to do the same.

Sylvia Miller (, Senior Program Manager and Special Projects Coordinator, Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes (CHCI), headquartered in Duke University’s Franklin Humanities Institute. Sylvia is the former Director of the Mellon-funded Publishing the Long Civil Rights Movement project at UNC Chapel Hill, which published a multi-genre online collection with a commenting feature; new editions of archival slave narratives in print-on-demand and ebook form; multimedia e-books; and a blog featuring contributions on both archiving and e-publishing. Her long career in scholarly reference publishing (as Publishing Director of Reference at Routledge and Executive Editor at Scribner Reference) developed her skills in information architecture; usability; and commissioning and producing scholarly content for a wide audience. Her insights on intersections between digital publishing tools and librarianship tools provide a valuable and important perspective that directly addresses the questions posed by the Workshop on how new technologies and tools have the potential to engage much broader audiences.

David P. Phillips (, Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Humanities, Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship (ICE), and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Wake Forest University, is Co-Director of Wake Forest University’s Digital Humanities Initiative, Principal Investigator for the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes (CHCI) Humanities for the Environment (HfE) Research Project, and director of the HfE’s global website development project. David’s current research interests focus on the intersection of digital humanities, environmental humanities, and public humanities, with a core interest in ways to engage publics in broad dialogue and to collaborate with public entities to develop web-based resources and online communities, topics that dovetail very closely with the focus of this year’s SCI Workshop. His current coursework includes courses in social entrepreneurship and the humanities, creativity studies, literary studies, environmental humanities and digital humanities. Recent posts include Digital Humanities as Public Humanities on the Wake Forest Digital Humanities Initiative blog. He looks forward to bringing his perspective on digital humanities and public humanities to the Workshop discussions.

Chelcie Rowell (, Digital Initiatives Librarian, Z. Smith Reynolds Library, Wake Forest University. Chelcie’s work as Digital Initiatives Librarian includes the digitization of special collections and collaboration with faculty who are pursuing digital humanities research and pedagogy. During a graduate seminar in the digital humanities, she developed a proposal for Black & White & Read All Over, whose goal is to present newspaper and magazine advertisements in a way that allows viewers of many kinds (professional, scholarly, casual) to encounter and engage with ads on the terms of the ads themselves: as essentially hybrid visual-textual objects. In addition to her day-to-day responsibilities as a librarian, Chelcie is developing research interests in designing interfaces to digital collections and engaging audiences in digital spaces. Recent posts by Chelcie can be viewed on her institution’s Professional Development blog, Special Collections & University Archives blog, and Digital Humanities Initiative blog.


Appendix: Online sources for exploring experimental digital environments

In order to jump-start our conceptualization of the types of digital publishing environments that could meet our objectives, we think it is worthwhile to explore existing experimental formats. Among the many notable examples we’ve observed to date are projects such as “Debates in the Digital Humanities,” which is designed to explore debates as the traditional scholarly text is transformed, emerging as an open access scholarly text with annotating features for reader feedback and discussion. Scalar provides another platform for rethinking the digital text. One of the Scalar ‘texts,’ Filmic Texts and the Rise of the Fifth Estate, allows readers to follow various pathways through the text in a “recursive structure [that] is meant to illustrate the capacity of digital media to create overlapping arguments” within an authoring platform. In Mapping the Long Women’s Movement (DH Press), oral history is re-imagined with indexed interviews tagged with a wide range of metadata elements, interfaced in online maps with geographic data, and customized to allow users to “create their own dynamic visual narratives … [and] visualize previously invisible connections between interviews.” The Spatial Information Design Lab at Columbia University experiments with projects that combine data visualization with geography, mapping, data management, and academic subjects such as transnationalism and migration in order to devise new formats for visually displaying information about contemporary cities and events. We see all of these projects as providing examples of ways that digital space showcasing scholarship could be radically altered and re-arranged.

Representative list of relevant websites

(1) Debates in the Digital Humanities— an open access edition of the printed text, designed to “expand into a hybrid print/digital publication stream [to] explore new debates as they emerge.”

(2) Spatial Information Design Lab

Design Lab Projects

(3) Projects authored with Scalar

Freedom’s Ring:

D|N|A: Seven Interactive Essays on Nonlinear Storytelling

Filmic Texts and the Rise of the Fifth Estate

(4) Projects authored with DH Press

Mapping the Long Women’s Movement

Recovering Hayti

(5) Commenting Guidelines for the Long Civil Rights Movement Project:

(6) The Spatial History Project, Stanford University (a digital “place” for a collaborative community of students, staffs, and scholars to engage in creative spatial, textual and visual analysis to further research in the humanities)

(7) Digital Forsyth, an online collection of historical photographs with opportunities for comments and online photo groups,

(8) Hybrid Publishing Lab–Researching New Forms of Scholarly Communication in the Digital Age

(includes “Book Sprints,” a method for collaborative writing, and “The Personal Archive,” which rethinks our relation to archives in the digital era.

(9) Women Film Pioneers Project (built on WordPress:

(10) Guantanamo Public Memory Project

(11) Projects using CommentPress (

Representative list of relevant publications, articles and blog posts

(1) “Green open access policies of scholarly journal publishers”

(2) “The hybrid model for open access publication of scholarly articles A failed experiment?”

(3) “Four ways open access enhances academic freedom”

(4) “Ten leading platforms for creating online communities”

(5) “So, how do we build digital cohorts and academic communities?”

(6) “How to create active online communities” (Australian Psychological Society)

(7) “Enhanced E-Books and Portal Books”


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