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Author: Jeffrey Barlow
Title: With Many Thanks...
Publication info: Ann Arbor, MI: MPublishing, University of Michigan Library
April 2006

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Source: With Many Thanks...
Jeffrey Barlow

vol. 9, no. 1, April 2006
Article Type: Editorial

With Many Thanks...

Jeffrey Barlow

The first issue of the Journal of The Association for History and Computing was posted in June of 1998. In those 8 years we have produced 20 issues. It has been a wonderful period for all of us, but particularly for me, as the founding editor, and later as the Executive Editor.

At the time we planned the journal, we were a young (well, in my case, younger than I am now…) group of iconoclasts who felt it was time that a fully peer-reviewed electronic journal in the allied fields of history and computing be publicly available on the Internet. It was our intention, naïve or perhaps hubristic, to influence the development of electronic scholarly journals in general. This we have done. I do not wish to recapitulate our successes here, but they have been many, and our influence has grown steadily. From being included in scholarly indexes to becoming an affiliate of the American Historical Association in the shortest time period of any emergent organization, we have had success after success.

One of the most pleasing annual events for me at least has been to attend large conferences in a variety of content fields, to audit panels on such disparate topics as electronic scholarship, the influence of the Internet, highly successful electronic sites, etc., and to realize that we had already published well over half of the presenters (if not the entire panel), and often were the first venue to publish them.

Our success was, I think, in large part due to our relative youth and inexperience. We were, for the most part, non-tenured faculty at what by most standards would have generously been described as less then “Tier One” institutions. We were also a remarkably international group. When we met, our friends and colleagues were frequently from European institutions, as well as from all over the United States. It was our goal to make our institutions, and our fields, see the importance of electronic media as a platform for both doing scholarship and disseminating it. Again, this we have done.

Moreover, our success has not been confined to electronic publication. Led by Dennis Trinkle and Scott A. Merriman, we have published four editions of The History Highway, far the most successful and useful of texts for historians on the subject of Internet research. David J. Staley has edited our book series, “History, the Humanities and New Technology” published by M. E. Sharpe. Many books and articles published in hard copy in our field had their start as peer-reviewed articles in the JAHC.

Most of us have been very successful in our careers. (My apologies to all my colleagues whom I have not named here—there are simply too many of you to list individually…forgive me.) Some of our founding group have fallen by the wayside, exhausted by all of the cruel initiative rites of American academia such as freeway flying between multiple jobs or a succession of one-year contracts. But many of us now enjoy named research chairs, department chairships, executive directorships, all the hallmarks of academic success. (And it is important to observe, I think, that the differences between our putative successes and our putative failures clearly have been due to accidents of time, place, and circumstances, not to any excesses or deficits of talents or energies.) And as I researched biographies for this editorial, I noticed that all of us listed with apparent pride our ties to the Journal of the Association for History and Computing.

And it would not be right for me to fail to mention the generations of students at Pacific University who worked behind the scenes to bring out the JAHC. They were the true visionaries who pushed us to adopt new technologies and new design principles. Our most recent Web Master, Heather Hawkins, is now a web designer for National Public Radio. Her predecessor, Chris Pruett, is a leading game programmer with credits for ten or more major games who writes regularly on gaming issues. Our current Web Master, Kim Neys, has been waiting patiently for days for me to write this editorial, so that she can post the current issue of the JAHC—this is the key quality all of these students have had, patience. (And again, there are dozens more of my students, true colleagues, who should be named here, but space prevents it. My thanks to you all.)

Before my students succeeded in automating much of our publication processes, putting out the JAHC was the dominant task for an entire month of our collective time, pulling together articles and reviews, and the week we posted was often nothing but JAHC chores; classes, friendships, and family all faded in their relative importance. Emails flew all over the world, to our many volunteer foreign language editors, our writers, and our editorial board.

Our successes at the JAHC bought most of us great rewards. One of many I have experienced is that I am now Director of the Berglund Center for Internet Studies and Editor of its journal, Interface. Our audience is a far less scholarly one and hence much broader than that for the JAHC. I find the necessity to read broadly in a variety of fields, and to coordinate several editorial boards and to constantly search for new contributors as well as to fund research, simply inconsonant with my work at the JAHC. Accordingly, the JAHC has suffered. (This would be a good place to apologize to all those contributors who have waited months for us to evaluate their fine work, and to my co-editors, Ryan Johnson and Deborah Andersen, who have been patient well beyond the limes of collegiality.)

Founding and then editing the Journal of the Association for History and Computing has been a milestone in my professional and intellectual development. I noticed several years ago, with some amazement, that I found the work we were doing at the American Association for History and Computing far more interesting and rewarding than my work as an Asianist, and I hope I can be forgiven for observing that I have been a very successful one, too. Now I largely combine those two loves, computing and Asia, and the Berglund Center for Internet Studies has generously offered me a wonderful opportunity to do so.

As must be obvious, I am resigning my position as Executive Editor at the JAHC. The association has yet to announce my successor, but I am sure that person will be successful, if only because he, she, or they will be able to draw on such a wonderful group of colleagues. Colleagues, I thank you.

Jeffrey Barlow

Executive Editor

The Journal of the Association for History and Computing