“What matters most in scholarly publishing is scholarship.”
This line is what stood out for me the most when I read Johanna Drucker’s essay:”Pixel Dust: Illusions of Innovation in Scholarly Publishing”. In contrast to social media friendly blogs, a scholarly website should be most concerned with the ease of searching for its visitors, while simultaneously maintaining and displaying erudition. Although she is a Professor of Information Systems, Drucker still believes that the “humanities have a role to play in demonstrating that knowledge is historically and culturally situated.” Categorized as “professionals”, Drucker maintains that validation can only be achieved by those scholars who achieve sapience through research and imagination. She also further confirms that those professionals also “have a role to play in demonstrating that knowledge is historically and culturally situated.” What Drucker seems most concerned about is the loss of cultural authority within the humanities during the process of digitization.
Drucker posits that scholars and academics have “to begin to organize ways of reading these works, chart a path, know how much of a project or argument one has encountered or missed” and Anthurium, a peer reviewed Caribbean Studies Journal, incorporates her aspirations as well as addresses her concerns. A digital journal dedicated to study of the Caribbean humanities, the website is starkly laid out with easy access to its published materials. The website uses the most current of file sharing applications and in their Aims & Scope the administrators declare that the site:
“remains committed to bridging the digital divide by making peer reviewed, scholarly articles and creative writing available to teachers, students, scholars and persons interested in Caribbean literature and culture worldwide without fee based subscriptions.”
Open access with a scholarly commitment, there are no “smoke and mirror attempts” or bells and whistles, but instead Anthurium is focused more on its organization and its user-friendliness. The site eerily resembles a printed published journal in digital form which gives it a more phrenic atmosphere and clearly demonstrates Drucker’s conclusion that “the difference between amateur and professional remains significant.” Anthurium also manages to allay Drucker’s fears of uncontrollable crowdsourcing by remaining in a controlled university digital environment, while simultaneously providing access to humanities scholarship based on the Caribbean and the Caribbean Diaspora.
It really amazes me how bureaucratic the systems of academia are, especially that of publishing. I cannot agree more that what should matter most in scholarly publishing is scholarship. Unfortunately, the system is set up in such a way (like many other social constructs) to enforce tradition and keep a selected few within the very tight knit inner circle. I also think it’s quite interesting that the academy, where “knowledge” and “brilliance” prevail, is resistant towards this potential advancement in publishing. To be frank, this kind of attitude towards cahnge could possibly deter many budding scholars who were born in an age of technology.