"For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them."


And there are those who would amend Mr. A. by pointing out that we learn best by doing them wrong.

In this new world of electronic publishing, though, we learn any way we can — by doing things right, by doing things wrong, and by learning from others' successes and failures, because when you don't know where you're going, any road you take will be the right one.

This issue of The Journal of Electronic Publishing is about a host of different roads, all of them right for those of us who are trying to master the medium.

In "The Importance of Failure" John Unsworth exhorts us to attempt projects that have a good chance of failure, and then to document that failure as assiduously as we document our successes, to leave a trail for those who might follow.

Morris Eaves explores the fascinating world of virtual collaboration, explaining how the William Blake Archive was conceived and developed by editors, programmers, and project managers at different universities using e-mail (and occasionally the phone) to create something new. However, he cautions, "Collaboration Takes More Than E-Mail."

Michelle Miller-Adams and Eve M. Trager remind us that CD-ROM is still a viable and useful digital technology, and they write about their adventures on the way to publishing a new take on the Bible. Their "Catechism for Digital Publishing" proves that even (dare I say it?) "older" digital technology has its pitfalls if you don't plan ahead.

One of the most exciting events of 1997 was the introduction at the Frankfurt Book Fair of the Digital Object Identifier, a system that will allow all of us to manage our intellectual-property rights in ways we probably can't imagine today. Bill Rosenblatt tells us how that achievement came about, and the ideas that were jettisoned on the trip, in "Solving the Dilemma of Copyright Protection."

Some ideas seem great at the time, but they are just not right for the time. The Internet Public Library seems to be one of them. The IPL came out of the traditions of public libraries espoused by Ben Franklin and Andrew Carnegie, but the Internet has no town meeting and very little true selflessness in a communal sense. Lorrie LeJeune writes about a lovely project that just won't make it in Before Its Time.

And this issue I check in with my own lessons, learned as I put The Chronicle of Higher Education on the Internet — one of the first full-text newspapers to grace the 'net. I reveal some of the mistakes I made, the expectations I didn't meet, and, yes, the success of "Pioneering an Online Newspaper."


—Judith Axler Turner