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Author: Jeffrey Barlow
Title: Upon the Occasion of Posting Our Second Issue
Publication info: Ann Arbor, MI: MPublishing, University of Michigan Library
November 1998

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Source: Upon the Occasion of Posting Our Second Issue
Jeffrey Barlow

vol. 1, no. 2, November 1998
Article Type: Editorial

Upon the Occasion of Posting Our Second Issue

Jeffrey Barlow

For any publication, the second one in a series is in some sense the most difficult; far more first books are published than second ones, and the World Wide Web is littered with e-journals which did not get beyond the first number. It is with some relief then, that we post this second number of the Journal of the Association for History and Computing. Our first number has been well received. We have been sent congratulatory messages from many countries, and good advice from many readers. We have also been offered the skilled services of two talented new editors, Deborah Lines Andersen, and Lynn C. H Westney, each of whom published an article in our inaugural edition. We continue to seek additional editors, particularly in the K-12 field. We are also aware of a probable need for bilingual scholars. (See "Editors Wanted" on the first page of this journal.)

This number of the Journal of the Association for History and Computing offers articles which fall, through no planning of our own, into two distinct areas. The articles by Jose Igartua and Arne Solli focus upon two major projects, one Canadian and one Norwegian, intended to integrate the use of computers, specifically of the World Wide Web, into the history curriculum. The experience gained through these two initiatives should be of use to many of us who are making tentative efforts in this direction. In that both projects were funded in part by national or regional governmental support in their respective countries, they also illustrate just how seriously some nations are taking the Web, attempting to incorporate computer-based learning into every aspect of their educational systems.

Two articles, by Scott Merriman and Gunnar Thorvaldsen, an American and a Norwegian scholar respectively, deal with the study of ethnicity in the American context. Merriman's article, "Persecution of the German Language in Cincinnati and the Ake Law in Ohio, 1917-1919" represents, we believe, the highest standards of the historian's craft—the careful use of documentary evidence in a closely reasoned argument. This research, however, does not seem to have depended upon the use of computers. In that sense, this is the first such article which we have chosen to publish. It is true that there are many other possible venues for such an article, but we chose to publish it so that the audience for electronic materials would have quick access to it, illustrating one of the prime advantages of the e-journal.

Professor Thorvaldsen's article, "Marriage and Names Among Immigrants to Minnesota," was written by a Norwegian scholar working primarily with American materials in an American academic venue to study Scandinavian immigration into Minnesota. His work illustrates what we believe to be the most common use of the computer in historical studies in the European context: working with large amounts of essentially statistical data. This might be said to be akin to "Cliometrics," the work in statiscally-based historical research done in an earlier era, but the facility of the European scholars with computer-assisted techniques takes such work into an entirely new dimension. In addition, the speed with which many troves of statistical data are being placed upon the Web, including the U.S. census materials utilized by Professor Thorvaldsen, is opening up a much wider use of such techniques. In future issues we will have additional reports on some of these projects to digitize statistical data.

The fifth article, "An Archiving Scheme for an On-line Journal," by one of our editors, Daniel Pfeifer, lays out the standards which we have adopted for archiving this publication, as well as discussing some common usages in the field of e-publications.

This number of the Journal represents then, a departure in several senses for us. We will continue to publish materials related primarily to the study of history and computing, but we also welcome articles on historical topics unrelated to computing or the use of computers whose authors wish to reach quickly a wide audience. Several of these articles, as well as several in preparation for the Winter issue of the journal, were originally delivered as papers at the July 1998 meeting of the International Association for History and Computing in Toledo, Spain. They represent the increasingly international character of this journal. This, of course, simply reflects the degree to which the World Wide Web is a truly international phenomenon.

Another international aspect of this journal is that we are now in negotiations with the international body of the Association for History and Computing to become the journal for the entire international association. This highlights for us, as for academics in general, many of the same questions that the rapid development of the World Wide Web has raised.

For example, to what degree is the Web truly international, and to what degree is it the preserve of writers and readers of the English language? At present, the World Wide Web is probably growing most quickly in non-English speaking countries. We have, to this point, received no submissions in languages other than English. But our editorial board is currently discussing standards and practices for the time when we become the Journal of the International Association for History and Computing. Should we publish in languages other than English? If so, how can we handle the editorial chores that will be vastly multiplied over our current burden? We calculate, for example, that each piece that we publish goes through at least five distinct formatting iterations as an electronic file, and an additional seven distinct editorial processes. A piece that began in French, Spanish, or Russian, each the language of a very active academic group working in this field, would greatly expand these activities—so much so that there would clearly be a trade-off between our ability to publish in a timely fashion, and our ability to assure the quality of the content of the articles which we chose to publish.

Many compromises are possible—we could post an English language summary of a foreign language article so that English speaking scholars would be appraised of the nature of contemporary activities in this field. Or we could require submission in English with a summary in the author's native language for the use of other speakers of that language. This would permit those not entirely fluent in English to make an informed decision as to which articles they would themselves translate or have translated. Both of these usages have been common practice, of course, in international journals in the print world.

Our solution to these problems is going to depend in large part, we believe, on the human resources that can be brought to bear. Accordingly, we would like to hear from scholars who are effectively bi-lingual in English and another language and who would like to assist in this project. Please see our "Editors Wanted" announcement in the Notices section of this issue.

For those who are interested in some of the technical questions of presenting an electronic journal, and in how we intend to solve the perennial historian's question—the perdurability of evidence—we offer both the article by Daniel Pfeifer, and this additional information as to our own practices: We are largely a Mac-based operation at the Matsushita Center for Electronic Learning at Pacific University, where this publication is produced. We are operating upon a new Mac G-3 server. We rely upon Microsoft Office with Word 98, and Microsoft FrontPage for some html formatting and production operations. We have begun using Golive Cyberstudio for our layout and site handling chores. We find it very powerful but wish it more robust—we experience frequent crashes. Our e-mail communications between editors and authors depends, at the Pacific end, upon Pine and Eudora Pro. We format our articles for viewing via Netscape Communicator, though will soon begin testing them in Microsoft Explorer as well. We know that our editors and authors utilize a bewildering variety of applications and while some materials have proved troublesome, so far we have managed to convert everything we have received into workable files. And, given that files have come to us from England, Ireland, Canada, the Czech Republic, Norway, Russia, Scotland, and the United States, this is no small testament to the applications now available, as well as to the international nature of this topic, and of the Internet and the World Wide Web.

We hope that you find this second number of the journal useful, and would enjoy hearing from you. In particular, of course, we would like to receive your submissions of manuscripts, reviews, news, and information of interest to our readers.

Jeffrey Barlow