Fogo Island Goes Digital: Taking a Scholarly Journal On-line, the Case of

Rowland Lorimer

Richard Smith

Paul Wolstenholme

Abstract: An open-source software-based, on-line version of the Canadian Journal of Communication has been created by a group of scholars and students. This paper casts this activity as social science R&D with roots in development communications; as a viable alternative to control by aggressive profit-seeking commercial journal publishers; and as a transferable technology to other scholar-controlled journals. It describes the software used, the capacity of the software system developed, the dependence of the nature and speed of development on both technology and take-up by the user community, and the direction of future development.

Résumé: Un groupe de chercheurs et d'étudiants a créé une version en ligne du Canadian Journal of Communication à base de logiciels et à code ouvert. Cet article désigne ainsi cette activité de mise en ligne : recherche et développement en sciences humaines ayant ses origines dans la communication pour le développement; alternative viable au contrôle d'éditeurs commerciaux de périodiques à la quête agressive de profits; et technologie transférable à d'autres périodiques contrôlés par des chercheurs. L'article décrit les logiciels utilisés, la capacité du progiciel développé, la dépendance de la nature et de la vitesse de développements sur à la fois la technologie et le degré d'utilisation par la communauté d'usagers, et la direction de développements futurs.

From development communications to social science R&D

Action-research, also initially dubbed the "Fogo Process,"1 is an internationally recognized distinctive tradition of Canadian communication scholarship. It grew out of a collaboration between the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) and the Extension Department of the Memorial University of Newfoundland. More specifically, it grew out of Donald Snowden's experiments with video, first on Fogo Island, followed by similar initiatives in other Newfoundland outport communities (Quarry, 1994). The initial success of these experiments stimulated the NFB's own "Challenge for Change" program which, in turn, appears to have provided a sufficient body of work that the approach became recognized worldwide.

In the context of films, action-research amounts to a transfer of control over documentary filmmaking from media professionals to the subjects of the documentary. In its first instance, the educators and filmmakers involved found that by giving control of documentary filmmaking to the islanders, they facilitated an opportunity for the communities of Fogo Island, Newfoundland, to represent themselves to each other and to the world. The Fogo Islanders were able to define themselves and their needs rather than act as passive recipients of government programs. The significant byproduct of this process for the islanders was a community-produced vision of common needs and realities. For communication scholars the process contributed to the unveiling of the process of media production and its socially constructed selectivity.

The research reported here represents an attempt to recapture the spirit of the Fogo process in a dot-com world. We view our activities as social science research and development (R&D) rather than development communications. In part, we do so because the scholarly community can hardly be termed a community with development needs even though they have lost a good deal of control over scholarly communication. We see our efforts as social science R&D because they involve the development and application of outwardly simple but technically sophisticated applications to create desired social realities. They capture the spirit of development communications because they place scholars in control of scholarly communication.

Our research consists of the creation of a standards-based Web publishing system for scholarly journals and an analysis of the significance of that effort.


For some number of years, beginning with Robert Maxwell in postwar Germany and his acquisition of distribution rights for the science journals published by Springer Verlag, large multinational publishers have been tightening their grip on scientific, technical, and medical (STM) communication (Bower, 1988). They have also changed their orientation from that of providing a service to the scientific community for a modest profit to focusing on extracting high profits from their monopoly positions as communicators of significant knowledge. After spending generously on production, these large publishers have been increasing their prices with regularity and taking home large profits-in the case of Elsevier, about $1 billion in profits per annum.2 Librarians have been crying unfair for at least a decade. Recently, they have begun to be successful in persuading universities and scholars to take counteractive measures.

Even as the librarians have been mounting counteractive measures, STM commercial publishers and other publishers for such professions as law have been attempting to tighten their grip on scholarly communication. Also, inspired by their STM colleagues, social science and humanities publishers such as Sage and Carfax have been either buying journals or administering them under contract. The attractive offer they make is to remove the administrative headaches and allow editors to concentrate on scholarship. By increasing marketing efforts, these publishers are able to maintain the prestige and maintain or increase the circulation revenues of the journal by steadily increasing subscription fees. The result for the scholarly community is less for more: fewer scholarly articles at an increased cost.

In the context of STM publishers' high subscription rates, it appears that universities have been paying professors to do science, allowing them to give their reports to the STM publishers, and buying back reports of their faculty (and the work of other scholars) in the form of overpriced subscriptions to journals. While such behaviour might be seen as a somewhat irresponsible use of public funds, for a long time the situation went unchecked. With the rapid growth of universities and journals from the 1960s onward, the significance of such publication practice increased dramatically. In the 1990s, cutbacks in university budgets and ever increasing subscription fees combined to produce a "crisis in scholarly communication" (Case, 1998) for scholars and university libraries. In Canada, the situation became sufficiently grave that the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) commissioned a report (AUCC-CARL/ABRC Task Force on Academic Libraries and Scholarly Communication, 1995). In the context of this librarian-oriented report, a national meeting with wider participation from within the academy and the publishing community was held. It was called "Scholarly Communication in the Next Millennium" (Lorimer, Gilbert, & Patrick, 1997). As a follow-up to that meeting, librarians increased their efforts to share resources and resist unwarranted price increases. In the larger academic community, a poster and brochure were created that have served to raise awareness of the nature and scope of the problem (see Figure 1).

Figure 1:
"Publish and Perish" Poster

Figure 1 'Publish and Perish' Poster

The challenge of wresting control over scholarly journals from seemingly overzealous commercial publishers and bringing it back into the academy has become an issue of concern for various groups (Cummings, Witte, Bowen, Lazarus, & Ekman, 1992; Ginsparg, Luce, & van de Sompel, 1999; Tuttle, 1989). We at the Advanced Publishing Research Laboratory (APuRL) have taken up this challenge by designing and building an on-line presence for the Canadian Journal of Communication ( Our purpose is not only to serve this single journal but rather to build a number of open-source digital publishing tools that can be transferred to a variety of journals, primarily in the social sciences and humanities.

Early experimentation: Version 1.0

We began working on the pilot version of the site in 1994. Our early efforts consisted of writing some perl and awk scripts that converted SGML3 files that we obtained from our publisher (Wilfrid Laurier University Press) into HTML. The resulting files were then transferred to an http server for viewing on the World Wide Web. These files were accessed through a manually created set of hypertext links that recreated on-line the journal's tables of contents issue by issue.

With the exception of the home page, the site was a copy of the content of the print journal but lacking page layout and pagination. It contained no graphics and no enhanced usability such as a search engine. The presentation of tables was problematic because of our limited ability to convert existing tables into HTML-compliant tabular material, and while the tables could have been manually manipulated we did not have the resources to carry out this labour-intensive work.

In spite of these limitations, the site proved popular, attracting visitors from North America, Europe (East and West), Australia-New Zealand, and Asia. The management of the journal encouraged us to proceed. As resources became available, we mounted successive issues of the journal and gained a valuable understanding of processes and pitfalls.

In retrospect, the decision to make back issues available to all site visitors was ahead of its time. Many other journals, largely because of commercial concerns, are still wrestling with whether and how to publish electronically. Our five years of experience with publishing on-line suggest that it is possible to improve the flow of scholarly knowledge, especially if we are willing to commit to an ambitious program of changing our processes as production technology becomes available and as consumption technology (i.e., browsers) becomes accepted. With the support of the Canadian communication community and the CJC board of directors, we are proceeding with just such a program of continuous changes and are committed to studying its dynamics as we proceed.

Technology and market innovation

The changes at are possible because of rapid changes in two areas: technology and the market.

Internet technology is changing rapidly, as we all know, and one of the liveliest areas of advancement is in free software known as "open source" (Raymond, 1999). Over the last five years, free open-source software has provided significant technology enablers for the production and distribution of information. However, the price is just a small part of the advantages of using open-source software. Other real advantages have been outlined in the documentation for an open-source project known as Zope (URL: They are as follows:

  • Safety. With open source [software], you are not held hostage by a vendor's agenda. A non-restrictive licence gives you the power [and the ability] to use and change [the software] to meet your business needs.
  • Security. Peer review [of the software code] ensures better security auditing. Security concerns can be detected before problems occur when the source is available. (Security means that we have the ability to ensure the integrity of our information from malicious tampering.)
  • Quality. Massive testing, peer review [by programmers] and community contributions [by the programming community] ensure better software quality. When problems are found, fixes are easy to apply and quick to appear.
  • Extensibility. [The software's] open integration allows you to extend [the software] and customize it. The availability of the source and a non-restrictive licence allow you to easily adapt [the software] to fit your needs.(All additions in square brackets are those of the authors of this article.) takes advantage of several open-source projects. Our operating system, database, scripting language, Web server software, and search engine are each derived from open-source software available to anyone.

  •'s operating system (FreeBSD). FreeBSD is an open-source operating system based on the Berkeley Software Distribution of Unix (URL: It runs on inexpensive Intel-based computers (486, Pentium) and is reliable. We are able to take advantage of the community of developers who identify performance bottlenecks, security problems, and bugs and fix them for the rest of the community.
  •'s database (MySQL). MySQL is an open-source SQL-92 compliant relational database (URL: It provides us with efficient storage and retrieval of our data and allows us to keep information in tables for easy sorting and re-purposing of the journal's content (for example, we can produce a list of all the titles, authors, and abstracts for a given year).
  •'s scripting language (PHP). PHP is an open-source "hypertext preprocessor" that provides "on the fly" creation of HTML pages and a connection between the database and Web pages (URL: PHP allows a Web designer to create pages that are generated dynamically when a visitor to the site requests them. In this way, our content can be flexible and adapted to the needs of the reader.
  •'s Web server software (Apache). Apache is the most commonly used Web server software in the world. Because of its open-source heritage, it has been improved and extended in myriad ways. In our case, it has been adapted to connect with PHP and mySQL for the serving of dynamic Web content.
  •'s search engines (ht://dig). ht://dig indexes our Web pages by searching through them as a user would-it requests pages from the Web server (through the Web "port") (URL: Importantly, as an open-source product, it has been extended to look beneath the content that is visible on the screen to see the metatags embedded within it. As a result, our visitors can search on specific items, such as author and title.

Technological change has not just occurred at the production and distribution (server) side. In fact, there have been significant changes at the client (consumption and interaction) side as well. Among these are greater numbers in the potential audience; more and better connections for that audience; and significant improvements to the tools available for clients (i.e., browser software and client operating systems that include Internet "out of the box").

Until the late 1990s and the widespread use of Windows 95 and Mac OS 7.5, putting a computer on the Internet or even accessing the Internet involved acquiring and installing additional software and considerable "hand tuning" by users. Beginning in the late 1990s:

  • the number of students, professors, and other analysts and researchers using the Internet increased dramatically;
  • the bandwidth of connections available to potential users increased substantially-modems have moved from 2,400 bps (bits per second) to 56,000 bps in the last decade;
  • the number and quality of computers being used has changed substantially. This means that the transmission of compressed images (e.g., jpg files) and computationally intensive instructions (e.g., FlashTM) is feasible;
  • Internet software is now included with the WindowsTM and MacOSTM operating systems, which means users are not required to do anything special to use the Internet; in fact, it is the primary use of many people's computers;
  • the last few years have seen improvements to and the widespread distribution of browser software. One of the most significant changes from a publishing point of view is the support for tables. This enables a grid layout and much easier communication of information; and
  • in the social sciences we have finally seen some movement toward de facto standards and interoperability among word-processing programs (i.e., Rich Text Format or .rtf). The profusion of kinds of word processors in years gone by meant that the editorial process was needlessly bogged down in issues of conversion. The ability to attach files to e-mail messages has resulted in a dramatic decline in the use of and the movement of physical media (e.g., floppy disks) that were vulnerable to damage and/or incompatible with editing systems once they arrived.

It is also important to realize that the way in which the user community is using technology has also been changing quickly. Electronic mail and Web browsing are now commonplace for the vast majority of our target audience-students and scholars in the English-using world. In fact, it has been our experience that undergraduate students prefer on-line sources to printed sources for their research papers and projects.

It has also been our experience that acceptance and appreciation of the utility of on-line searching for information is increasing. E-mail has become the primary mode of collegial communication; the use of personal computers to analyze and represent results is increasing; and personal computers are almost universally used by scholars and students to prepare manuscripts for publication. Even five years ago, the situation was much different.

The above are all salient factors in the creation of an environment in which on-line scholarly communication is accepted. However, for on-line scholarly communication to really take hold, advantages need to be visible to a broad user community and their representatives-libraries, research funding agencies, and promotion and tenure committees. In fact, all three groups, recognizing the costs and dangers of continued dependence on printed materials, have moved to ensure the viability of a market in electronic scholarly materials. Libraries have set up archives and access points to on-line sources; research funding agencies have announced the acceptability of electronic publishing in the review of qualifications (Advisory Committee on Information Technology Sub-committee on Policies, 1996); and promotion and tenure committees are gradually coming to the conclusion that there is no necessary relationship between the value of a peer-reviewed article and the destruction and pulping of trees.

Where we are now: Version 2.0

The backbone of is the scholarly article. In Version 2.0 we have retained and improved the presentation of our articles in a number of ways.

Perhaps the first element to note in our electronic presentation of articles is their "stereotypicality" with the print versions. Having experimented with alternative, hypertextual versions of articles (Baragar, 1995), we became convinced quickly that the developed print-based linear format of the scholarly article was the most effective communication form for scholarly knowledge. While we anticipate further experiments in this area with on-line-specific scholarly communication, especially to facilitate the inclusion of hyperlinks and media other than text, we expect to preserve the essential form of the scholarly article.

To the articles themselves we added full Dublin Core-compliant metatags. The Dublin Core metadata scheme comprises 15 data elements for describing information resources to support resource discovery in Web-accessible applications.4 This inclusion of metatags allows search engines to locate articles by keywords, titles, and authors, or any of the other 15 elements.

We have also corrected some of the errors in the presentation of tabular material that occurred in Version 1.0. Most significantly, we have created a database-driven mechanism for interactive viewing of titles and abstracts. Users can now browse titles and abstracts continuously and effortlessly without being impeded by the articles themselves. Once they have found an article of interest, they can click on "Full Article" and see the full text. Improvements have been made in the movements between citations in the body of the article and the actual bibliographic references at the end of the article. Based on discussions with graphic designers, we have improved the readability of articles largely by adding appropriately sized and located white space. Although a few anomalies remain, significant strides have been made in the representation of accented characters. (Many characters can be faithfully represented on the Web. However, inaccuracies are frequently introduced in the file-conversion process.)

Access to articles has been restructured into three sections-back issues, current issues, and forthcoming issues. Tables of contents of all issues (back to CJC, 16(1) [1991]) are available to all site visitors. Book reviews, editorials, and titles and abstracts from current issues are available to all site visitors. The full texts of back issues including titles and abstracts are also available to all visitors to the site. The decision to make back issues fully available was based on our desire to maximize readership without jeopardizing revenues. Our level of back issue sales did not justify restricting access to this material and our experience has shown that subscriptions are not affected by such availability. The full texts of articles in current issues are available only to individual subscribers. If we are successful in negotiating a national site licence for the journal, as NRC Press has done recently, we will broaden the availability of current issues to all Canadian users.

The following screen images show the home page of the journal in its current form and a listing of the tables of contents (Figures 2 and 3).

Figure 2:
Homepage of

Figure 2: Homepage of

Figure 3:
A Table of Contents on

Figure 3: A Table of Contents on

Because of the metatagging of articles, we can offer full text as well as tagged-element searching, that is, by title and author. All site visitors are able to search the full database. However, only subscribers are able to access the full texts of articles from current issues even though they can see the titles of articles from the current issues that turn up in their search. An easy on-line subscription service will be implemented to allow non-subscribers to change their status in relatively short order.

A further innovation is this: In a traditional print journal, it is customary to place the more ephemeral items at the back of an issue or in white space that happens to occur between articles. Book reviews, in particular, are placed in the back. Ads are often found at the back or between articles. It is possible on the Web to change this practice to create a dynamic front page of changing elements and yet not interfere with access to the articles. In the case of, we have moved the book reviews onto the front page and created a special section, also on the front page, called "Off the Wire." This latter section calls attention to time-sensitive news items and events relevant to our subscribers such as job postings, conference announcements, and calls for papers.

The front page of the Web site is also home to two other important features-a small Web form to encourage visitors to join the mailing list and a highlighted section featuring links to subscription information, advice to authors, the CJC style guide, editorial policy, and journal governance.

The user experience of has been completely revamped through scripting and design. Scripting features include backwards and forwards navigation through elements within a group, that is, titles and abstracts within an issue. Another scripting feature is quick links that allow ready movement from any location in the site from major category to major category (articles/book reviews/search engine/home page). Design improvements are to be found in the icons used and the colours of the presentation. In collaboration with the Master of Publishing program at Simon Fraser University, design features have been and will continue to be analyzed and improved with an eye to accessibility, usability, and visual appeal.

Where are we going? is a constantly evolving project. As soon as we complete the development of a feature and make it available to our readers and authors, we start working on new features, behind the scenes. Sometimes these features are rejected as unworkable or unsuited to our goals, but this is part of the research process. We aim to embody within the journal itself the key elements of scholarly communication in the profession on which it reports. We are guided by a commitment to scholarship, to advancement of that scholarship, and to effective communication of that scholarship among members of the profession and other members of the public who may be interested.

Our commitment to scholarship and advancement of scholarship has resulted in numerous small changes in the way the information in the print journal is presented to our on-line readers. In the near future, however, more significant changes are in the works, while maintaining "backwards compatibility." In other words, we plan to implement new features or capabilities as options available to those who choose to take advantage of them.

There are two important principles we have encountered in managing the technological change we are setting in motion. First, we must take into account the adoption rates of the majority of users. Site visitors may ignore useful features. This may not mean that they are useless but rather that it will take some time for users to see their value. The other side of the equation is responding to expectations that are either logical or extend from the experience of users with other sites-the "why can't I?" phenomenon. Both are important. With so many people experimenting with Web presentations, giving rise to a constantly evolving form, we are dealing with a very fluid environment. This is a challenge but it is also an enormously stimulating and rewarding environment for work.

Some of our current initiatives are as follows:

  • Custom courseware. Authors of articles (and other scholars) often use the version of their article as a resource for their students. (This type of use shows up in our log files as numerous "hits" on a single article from different computers at the same institution.) We intend to work with our authors to create an area within the for the resources they select from the journal and, if they desire and resources permit, a discussion forum specific to their class.
  • Alternative categorization/ordering schemes. While it is normal to have articles in a journal in a fixed order, and the issues and volumes released and stored by date, there is no reason why an electronic journal should be organized solely in this way. We will not remove the traditional chronological way of viewing our articles; however, we intend to create different "modes" of access, including sorting by author, by title, by subject matter via keywords, and so on. We could even provide individuals with the opportunity to re-sort the articles according to their own set of rules as a complement to the custom courseware option mentioned above.
  • Featured articles. We know, from looking at our access logs, which articles are read the most frequently. It would be a relatively straightforward matter to bring these to the forefront as featured articles for a time. We can also use other related criteria to feature articles, such as a recent publication of a book by that author or the release of a report on that topic.
  • Knowledge Webs. While we are convinced that the linear, logical format for articles is here to stay, there is every reason to experiment with adding Web links within our articles. It is becoming quite common for authors to cite electronic sources when writing their articles. It will be possible to retain these as live links in the published on-line version of the article. Live reference linking is becoming standard in the sciences. (This raises the possibility of these links becoming "stale" or "dead" but there are possible counteractive measures, including linking only to sources with credible archiving policies and practices.) In addition, with the increasing adoption of schemes such as DOI (Digital Object Identifiers) we expect it to be possible in the near future for the problem of dead links to fade or to disappear.
  • E-mail contact with subscribers. Subscribers to our electronic mailing list now receive an e-mail notice when a new issue of the journal is made available. These notices can be expanded (at the subscriber's option) to include job postings, book reviews, and news items.
  • Jobs, employment, and user-controlled postings. is becoming a hub for activities that were previously conducted through informal channels or other media and did not involve the journal. One of these areas is job postings. In general, a quarterly print journal with its deadlines for final copy, its lag time at the printer, and its distribution time does not provide a very useful service to organizations seeking to hire scholars and researchers. An electronic journal, such as, with a Web form for announcements is able to post job submissions within hours of receiving them. This, combined with a general increase in activity in university hiring, has resulted in a fairly active job posting section of Our intent over the medium term is to extend the range of options for our readers not just as receivers of information but as contributors, as happens at such sites as Many users will be able to register as regular contributors and as a result be able to "self serve" their postings. Such an initiative complements open-source software by giving control to the user community.
  • A community of scholars. In the early years, it was the community side of the Internet that captured the imagination of Internet pioneers. Sites such as The Well and authors such as Howard Rheingold (1993) offered a vision of collaboration and co-operation among electronically connected individuals that seemed to promise great things in terms of a collective intelligence and problem solving. For scientists, the network seemed to provide a chance to return to days gone by. In both our print and on-line journal, we provide the e-mail address of the author to encourage scholarly interaction. We will continue to look for additional opportunities to use the "transactional" capacities offered by the Internet.
  • Need-to-know information with area editors. Much of the published research in social science and humanities journals is of the nice-to-know variety for the majority of readers. For the most part it is an item of curiosity rather than a reading imperative. We intend to include more need-to-know information in We can begin to do this by keyword coding of articles and asking users to select keywords when searching the journal. The resulting match should enhance the value of the information contained in the journal for any specific user. We also intend to post news items along with considered opinion, contextual perspective, and critical analysis-that is, scholarly analysis. In other words, we will build from scholarly strengths. To do this, we will recruit experienced scholars who are willing to become area editors for specific knowledge domains. We will provide them the tools so that they can easily manage the posting of items and analysis from any Web browser.
  • An expanded media palette. Until very recently it was not cost effective to convey social science and humanities information in anything other than the cheapest of print formats. Social science and humanities journals, as distinct from STM journals, are vivid examples of cost management through restricting the range, quality, and frequency of publication. A typical issue of a print journal is devoid of colour; has a limited number of photographs or other image and tabular elements; is limited to a certain number of pages and issues per year; and is constrained by the size of the page. These constraints are, for the most part, technologically and financially induced. Yet so entrenched are they that the scholarly community has virtually closed itself off from other ways of undertaking analyses, reporting research, and providing illustrative examples. In communications scholarship in particular, this constraint is especially challenging, as scholars frequently write about radio, movies, television, advertising, and commercials. Even more interesting is that communication scholars have grown so accustomed to such constraints that they seldom raise them as a concern. With the electronic format we intend to go far beyond simple black lines on white pages. We are already experimenting with streaming audio and video from scholarly talks (the Southam Lecture for 2000 was up on our site less than 24 hours after delivery). We hope to go further with graphics, hypertext, colours, sound, and video.

Dissemination and co-operation

Our emphasis on communicating our efforts has led us to participate in many networks and partnerships. We are, for example, working closely with the International Consortium for the Advancement of Academic Publishing (ICAAP, URL: Our affiliation with ICAAP is one of the ways in which we can benefit from what others are doing and share our experience with them. We also keep ourselves aware of the activities of SPARC (URL: and the Euclid Project in Mathematics.

Another fruitful collaboration is within the Advanced Publishing Research Laboratory (APuRL, URL: APuRL members include the Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing (CCSP, URL: http://www., the Centre for Experimental and Constructive Mathematics (CECM, URL:, and the Centre for Policy Research on Science and Technology (CPROST, URL: These three groups provide us with access to emerging knowledge in the business of publishing (CCSP), the electronic representation of abstract and complex ideas (CECM), and the regulatory and policy environment for scholarly communication (CPROST).

We are giving back to the scholarly communications community through the development of open-source publishing tools that we will be making available to our colleagues. Our use of PHP and MySQL as our building blocks allows us to freely distribute our changes and additions so that others will be able to inexpensively pick up where we leave off.

We are also giving back by participating in research and standard-setting for electronic scholarship generally (Dublin Core, DOI, XML). The Scholarly Communication in the Next Millennium conference, held in Vancouver in 1997, provided a useful focal point for energies and excitement about on-line scholarly communication. We are also participating with groups across Canada and in the United States, sharing our experience and learning from theirs.

One of the wonderful things about operating a journal as a research project is that it becomes a useful site for training of graduate and undergraduate students. This is, in some ways, a benefit of our specific area of research coinciding with the activities of a scholarly journal. However, such opportunities are relevant to other disciplines. Our colleagues in mathematics have been embracing these same challenges and regard communicating about science as much of a legitimate research problem as doing the mathematics research for which they are famous. Similar initiatives have occurred around the world, notably in physics (the Los Alamos preprint server) and in ecobiology.

Conclusion: Social science R&D

As one of us has written (Lorimer, 2000), social science and humanities research appears to have retreated into argumentation and conjecture. Far from being intensively and extensively engaged in the world, much that is written is based on a time-constrained and conceptually limited engagement with a social reality and an elongated analysis based on the prevailing frameworks of discourse-globalization, civil society, the evils of commerce-and prevailing political agendas of ascendant interest groups. The notion that social scientists might engage in research into technological processes and the development and applications of new technologies oriented to serving social goals is relatively unknown, primarily because social scientists lack the tools to carry on such work. There is also a level of suspicion of technology that we have experienced in our applications for funding. Our peers have assumed, for example, that cookie technology cannot be used in any way but underhandedly. ("Cookie" technology allows Web site programmers to capture information about users.)

Our view is different. Technology is not inherently positive or negative in its impact on society. It depends upon how it is deployed. As Jacques Ellul (1964) has told us, it brings forward a new reality, a new set of opportunities, and a new set of challenges. We see alternative modes for deployment of technology-the Internet and open-source software-as equally powerful to the courts in controlling the commercial ambitions of the Microsofts of the world. We also see piracy and viruses not as legally justifiable but as predictable consequences of technological benefits going to some but not to others.

In creating a dynamic, on-line presence for the Canadian Journal of Communication, we believe that we have intervened positively in the scholarly communication process via technologically mediated communication.

With the mounting of, the audience for the authors published in the journal was immediately expanded, manyfold (Lorimer, Smith, & Wolstenholme, 1999). Our hit rate is climbing steadily, meaning that greater use is being made of our published articles. The journal also receives questions about citation format so we know that students and scholars are using the articles in their own work. Alongside this expanded universe of readers is an expanded universe of contributors. Numerous scholars have found the journal on the Internet and some have made inquiries about submitting articles. Also, our assistant editor, Nancy Duxbury, found, as a result of querying about page numbers, that many of our recent non-Canadian authors had used the on-line site to cite past CJC articles.

In developing the journal to bring forward important and timely information, we have attempted to assist with scholarly community building. With scholars and researchers being increasingly busy with their own teaching, research, and committee work, and with copious amounts of information arriving on their desks and in their e-mail inboxes each day, we know that keeping abreast of the scholarly literature is difficult. In the same way that other professionals need information at their fingertips, so do scholars. Our efforts have so far been oriented to organizing the CJC as an electronic information resource. We have still more work to do there. We are also working on identifying need-to-know information and refining our interaction with our readers so that nice-to-know information is becoming need-to-know for targeted readers. For the time being, by distributing nice-to-know information to a broad community we know that it will be "need-to-know" for a subsection of those receiving the information. The activities of our area editors will contribute to these developments.

We have demonstrated, to ourselves at least, the value of the traditional scholarly article form as opposed to a re-organized hyperlinked presentation on topics. Narrative carries the day even in scholarship.

We have yet to demonstrate that an electronic scholarly journal will be accepted as a centre of a broader range of information than it has previously offered scholars. Our view is that this is not a theoretical matter but rather an empirical R&D matter-a challenge to develop sufficiently flexible and efficient tools to deliver appropriate information and analysis to the right people at the correct time. In proceeding toward that goal, it would seem that the new dynamism that we have introduced on the front page will prove useful. Bringing forward news and scholarly commentary also appears to hold promise. Similarly, a variety of ways of retrieving and organizing retrieved information would appear to have value for students and new scholars. What we have found to date is that as we add each new feature, the new reality thereby created calls for advancing yet another step.

In a sense, we are gradually redefining scholarly communication. We expect to make some false starts, but then again, not all our inventions will fall on barren soil. Is there a value to the immediate release of such material as a sound and video file of Derrick de Kerckhove's Southam lecture? Usage patterns will provide us with a beginning answer. Similarly, what type of announcements get the most attention from our site visitors? Will tools for re-organizing material be used? We can only know by developing such capacities and monitoring a variety of channels for feedback.

We do know that we are on target in terms of our overall goals. Those goals are to create a Web-based, affordable scholarly communication system that can be used by other non-profit scholarly journals and that is every bit the equal of the commercial sector. In that way we will also fulfill our goals of contributing to scholarship, to the advancement of scholarship, and to effective communication among scholars. We also know that there are considerable challenges that lie ahead. For example, we plan to put in place a Web-based submission/review/management process. We have taken some important first steps but, to a degree, we are waiting for our contributors to gain comfort with such a system before moving decisively in that direction.

We hope that we will begin to see changes in the scholarly communication process that result from our efforts-that the form of articles submitted to the journal begins to expand, that authors and reviewers become more comfortable with e-mail submission, that our hit rates continue to rise, and that a greater number of students and scholars begin to submit material for inclusion on the site.

We view our efforts and these possibilities as technologically mediated intervention in a social process and a dynamic challenge to the commercial capture of scholarly communication. While tempted by profits from these efforts we are also cognizant that we are taxpayer-supported scholars who owe society some gratitude for being able to explore the frontiers of knowledge.


In 1967, Snowden helped to develop the "Fogo Process", a people-centred community development approach which, via simple media tools, assists communities and individuals in "coming to grips" with their problems, opportunities, and visions. Community members were able to articulate their problems, ideas, and vision on films that were later screened to community members at facilitated community discussion forums. Through the films, the people of Fogo Island began to see that each village on the Island was experiencing similar problems and became aware of the need for community organization. The films were also used to bring distant politicians face-to-face (or face to screen) with the voices and visions of people they seldom heard. Government policies and actions were changed, the people of Fogo began to organize, and the history of the Island changed forever.
Reed-Elsevier has three major divisions-science, legal, and business. The overall income of the company for 1999 was £3.390 billion or approximately double that in Canadian dollars. Overall profits were £792 million. Its science division accounted for £652 million and brought the company £231 million in profits (19% of total revenues, 29% of total profits). Its legal division did even better, accounting for £1,268 million in business and £316 in profits (an astonishing 37% of total revenues and 40% of total profits). Its business division, where one might think the real money would be, brought the company the highest revenues (£1,470 million, 43% of total revenues) but not the highest profits-£245 million or 31% of total profits. In both science and legal publishing a great amount of that profit is gleaned directly from the spending of public funds.
SGML, or Standardized General Markup Language, was developed originally as a way of standardizing the interaction between typographers and printers. Our printer used a version of this standard to create files for their typesetting equipment. HTML has at its origins as a Document Type Definition (DTD) of SGML. In other words, it is a subset of the SGML standard. For this reason it was relatively straightforward to convert the files into HTML from SGML.
Owing to its international support and its rapid acceptance as a means of resource description by many communities, Dublin Core has emerged as the most significant standard for the simple description of electronic information resources. The elements encompassed by the Dublin Core standard are title, creator, subject and keywords, description, publisher, contributor, date, resource type, format, resource identifier, source, language, relation, coverage, and rights management. Information for Canadians on the Dublin Core can be found at URL:


Advisory Committee on Information Technology Sub-committee on Policies. (1996). From here to eternity: Creating, protecting and sharing digital scholarly resources at UBC. Vancouver: University of British Columbia.

AUCC-CARL/ABRC Task Force on Academic Libraries and Scholarly Communication. (1995). Towards a new paradigm for scholarly communication. Waterloo, ON: Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada & Canadian Association of Research Libraries.

Baragar, G. (1995). Editing a scholarly journal article for the electronic medium. Unpublished master's thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB.

Bower, T. (1988). Maxwell: The outsider. London: Aurum.

Case, Mary. M. (1998). ARL promotes competition through SPARC: The Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition. Washington: Association of Research Libraries' (ARL) Office of Scholarly Communication. URL:

Cummings, A. M., Witte, M. L., Bowen, W. G., Lazarus, L. O., & Ekman, R. H. (1992, November). University libraries and scholarly communication. Published by The Association of Research Libraries for The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. URL:

Ellul, J. (1964). The technological society (J. Wilkinson, Trans.). New York: Knopf.

Ginsparg, P., Luce, R., & van de Sompel, H. (1999, July). The Open Archives initiative aimed at the further promotion of author self-archived solutions. Los Alamos National Laboratory. URL: (Visited July 14, 2000)

Lorimer, R. (2000). Editorial. Canadian Journal of Communication, 25(1), 3-7.

Lorimer, R., Gilbert, J., & Patrick, R., eds. (1997). Scholarly communication in the next millennium: Selected papers from Canada's policy conference [Special issue]. Canadian Journal of Communication, 22(3-4).

Lorimer, R., Smith, R., & Wolstenholme, P. (1999). Web server statistics for the Canadian Journal of Communication. Canadian Journal of Communication, 24(2), 289-293.

Quarry, W. (1994). The Fogo process: An experiment in participatory communication. Unpublished master's thesis, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON.

Raymond, E. S. (1999). The cathedral and the bazaar. Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly & Associates.

Rheingold, H. (1993). The virtual community: Homesteading on the electronic frontier. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Tuttle, M. (1989). Newsletter on serials pricing issues. URL: http://www-mathdoc. (Visited July 14, 2000)

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We wish to acknowledge the financial support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for their financial support through theAid to Scholarly Journals Program.