DOIs and URLs

I recently received an e-mail from the DOI folks announcing that the styling doi:10.3983/twc.2011.0271 (with the doi: prefix run into the DOI number) may be replaced with the actual URL that the DOI links to—in this case, http://dx.doi.org/10.3983/twc.2011.0271. This is big news indeed! But it is news that is unlikely to result in immediate action on anybody’s part.

For those of you unaware of DOIs, which remain relatively rare in the humanities but which are used extensively in the sciences, it’s a scheme meant to permit URLs to persist. Instead of a “permanent” URL pointing to a journal article, book, or other element, a DOI is assigned. The DOI is included with the publication so scholars can cite it. Then, in theory, someone who wants to access the article can just type in the DOI and be taken the article’s primary page. This can be the article itself, but more commonly it is a summary page, with citation info, abstract, and the like, plus perhaps an opportunity to purchase the article (example here). Then, when a Web site is totally restructured, as it inevitably is, the journal just deposits new URLs associated with the DOIs, and magically, the DOIs continue to hit.

According to the note from DOI, they had hoped or assumed that the doi: prefix would be automatically rendered by browsers to take you right to the DOI, so you could just copy or hotlink “doi:10.3983/twc.2011.0271” in a browser, and you’d be taken right to the correct summary page. This hasn’t happened, though, and bowing to the inevitable, DOI has given their blessing for the DOIs’ related URLs to be used instead. The DOI URL prefix “http://dx.doi.org/” simply replaces the “doi:” part. I can see DOI’s logic in preferring to hope that the “doi:” would be made to automatically hit, because now “http://dx.doi.org/” is going to have to persist. The “doi:” styling also has the beauty of being immediately differentiated from a URL, which is good because DOIs and URLs are different things.

This new styling may take a while to trickle down to common usage. For example, the latest (16th) edition of the Chicago Manual of Style provides styling information that uses the doi:10.3983/twc.2011.0271 protocol, and it’s much, much easier to point authors to a published style than to make exceptions. Oh, the irony! No sooner does Chicago get on board than DOI permits this new style.

Meanwhile, for those of you taking seriously various styling guidelines requesting DOIs, you may look up a small number of them at CrossRef.org’s DOI Lookup. You may also sign up for an account to do automated batch queries.

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MiT7 on the horizon

I leave tomorrow for the Media in Transition 7 conference, the theme of which is Unstable Platforms: The Promise and Peril of Transition. My paper is called Academic Journals Online, and in a move that will surprise no one, I will talk about (among other things) Transformative Works and Cultures, the online-only Open Access Gold fan studies journal I coedit with Kristina Busse.

I’ll be talking about the “promise and peril” of transition in terms of the humanities’ rocky move to online publication in terms of scholarly journals. This topic interests me because I am employed in the publishing industry, plus I’m an editor of a journal, so I have to deal with a lot of behind-the-scenes copyright and production stuff that has implications for presentation and dissemination.

My panel, Publishing in Transition, is on the very last day of the conference, Sunday, May 15, from 10:45a to 12:15p. The other people on the panel are Kathleen Fitzpatrick (who will be talking about books, as opposed to journals), Hanno Biber and Evelyn Breitenede (online corporate texts), and Kristin Anderson-Terpstra and Casey Brienza (manga distribution in the United States).

Here’s my abstract:

The transition of scholarly discourse online is proving a bumpy one. Although some radical new modes of content vetting and delivery are emerging and “digital humanities” has become a buzzword, scholarly work online in the humanities and social sciences is not accorded the same prestige compared to journals that use a print-only or dual print-online model, despite the obvious advantages of access and use of embedded (multi)media. Yet these fears also reveal sites of possible renegotiation of the academic model in a way that will help scholars and scholarly discourse. Publishing in the humanities and the social sciences needs to follow the lead of the sciences, which were early adopters of moving and organizing content online: physics pioneered the online preprint; ClinicalTrials.gov registers trials and provides instructions for investigators; and journals in many disciplines publish online-only supplemental materials, such as data sets and online videos. Further, Creative Commons copyright and open access models have much to offer. All these ideas may be usefully co-opted by the digital humanities.

A draft of the full paper is up on MiT7’s site. Ironically, one concern of mine was that putting up full text would render any text I might try to publish about this topic unpublishable (because it had already appeared), so I wrote informally and didn’t cite exhaustively, so that any rewrite will be substantially different and could be considered. Hmmm… sounds like an excellent topic of discussion for this conference!

American remakes of British television

It’s out! Carlen Lavigne and Heather Marcovitch edited American Remakes of British Television: Transformations and Mistranslations, and I just received my contributor copy. My essay is entitled “Memory and the 1996 American Remake of Doctor Who.” Other TV shows discussed in the volume include American Idol, Cracker, What Not to Wear, Queer as Folk, The Office, Life on Mars, and Steptoe and Son. The essays are divided into three sections: Methods and Mechanics, Personal and Political, and Text and Context. The editors’ introduction usefully contextualizes the volume and sources other books about remakes.

American Remakes cover image

The book is published by Lexington Press (a Rowman & Littlefield imprint) and is available in hardcover and in an electronic version. You can order it right from Lexington or, of course, from Amazon. The complete table of contents is up at Lexington’s site.

OTW March 2011 drive

23-29 March 2011 OTW Membership Drive

What I do for OTW: I coedit the OTW’s academic journal, Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC).

Why this is important: TWC’s focus on the fan part of the equation makes it unique. Other academic journals will take articles about fan studies, but OTW does so within a framework that respects fan privacy and autonomy—for example, we request that contributors contact the fans that are being written about, so that fans can be informed and can help control how they and their fan works are presented.

What I do as a fan: I write fan fiction, maintain a fan fic archive, and maintain a couple mailing lists. All this has regrettably slowed down since I started working on TWC, but I also perceive working on TWC as a kind of fannish activity—service, rather than creation. However, lately I’ve been getting lots of feedback on old stories I’ve written and archived over at the Archive Of Our Own (did I get rec’d? what what?), and it’s making me feel all happy and shiny, so if I could just clear this backlog of TWC manuscripts I need to comment on….

ICFA 32

ICFA 32 just ended! I gave a paper entitled “Fandom kerfuffles as expressions of agency.” (I’m sure you noticed that I do not have a subtitle.) I assess fandom kerfuffles, and I used as my example Strikethrough ’07. I argue that kerfuffles are an important way for members of the fan community (broadly conceived) to exert collective agency. This agency may or may not result in change, but regardless, fans, through a process of consensus, come to act as moral agents who exert agency and impose value judgments. The kerfuffle is a divisive discussion, often centering on the lack of autonomy or freedom an individual feels. Kerfuffles are important because they are expressions of an emergent collective group, and that group is made up of individuals who perceive themselves as having agency.

The point of the kerfuffle becomes the kerfuffle itself; it is a mode of expressing agency, discussing a topic, and engaging with others in a topic larger than fandom-specific concerns: gender, race, class. The kerfuffle permits the ad hoc, emergent fan grouping taking part to act as the moral community that provides space for this sort of important discussion. In addition to the fan grouping being emergent, the intention is likewise emergent. (I discuss this in terms of the sociological literature.)

I won’t reproduce the description of Strikethrough ’07 here, as it’s been very well documented and readers of this blog can easily find out about it. I use it as an example because it resulted in emergent action: the creation of the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW). The kerfuffle united, rather than divided, groups of fans into a larger emergent group that made an ethical judgment about a situation and then took action using fan norms. This kerfuffle cut at the heart of fans’ artistic integrity and the infrastructure of many fans’ most fundamental social engagements, LiveJournal. Kerfuffles work by rending the fan community and then emergently reconstituting it, thus permitting fannish core values and norms to be assessed and reaffirmed; but they can also work to bring about directed action.

This work is related to an essay I published last year about Fandom Wank, and I have also done work on the MsScribe Story. I’m interested in kerfuffles and wanks in terms of documentation and fan norms. I plan to write up this paper and the MsScribe Story paper for publication.

I saw lots of familiar faces, and I met a lot of great new people, including many smart grad students. I got on my fangirl squee when I got to chat with the writer guest of honor, Connie Willis, whose recent books, Blackout and All Clear, are even better than her previous masterwork, The Doomsday Book. Scholar guest of honor Andrea Hairston’s lunchtime talk, which began with African women sitting on men and ended with the film District 9, ranks among the best, most thought-provoking, wide-ranging performances I have ever witnessed.

TWC No. 6 released

TWC No. 6, a special guest-edited issue on History, has been released right on time. In addition to the peer-reviewed papers and symposium articles, this issue features some great oral histories, some video, some words.

We are having trouble making the DOI links work, but never fear, we are on it and they will be working soon. Please bear with us. Meanwhile, enjoy!

Comic book slash

Journalist Matt “Darcey” Buttell, writing for the Web site So So Gay, interviewed me via e-mail for a story about slashing the characters in comic books: “Slash: Fan fiction’s sexiest sub-culture.” Admittedly I know nothing about comic book slash, other than that Wolverine is hot, but I like Buttell’s thesis: that until comics’ TPTB get it together and introduce more canon gay characters, well, the unofficial stuff written by fans will have to do.

Matt mentions an important point that TPTB everywhere would do well to consider, because it’s true of more than comics:

Ultimately, fiction in any form works because writers are more than just storytellers: they open up readers’ minds to entire new worlds, previously unimagined landscapes or situations, and unforgettable characters. This applies both to fan fiction and the source material on which fan fic is based. The concern is that comics’ audiences seem two steps ahead of the industry when it comes to open-mindedness and diversity.