1                    <ONLINE MODERN HISTORY REVIEW>  March 1993
     5       Marijan Salopek
     9                       Historians and Electronic Publishing
    10                       ==================================== 
    12    Advances in telecommunications and electronic publishing
    13    technology are creating new opportunities for the dissemination
    14    and processing of great quantities of information.  The
    15    availability of so much material in an electronic format poses a
    16    considerable problem for historians who for the first time in
    17    their professional careers are having to consider the
    18    implications of working with records stored in an electronic
    19    form.   Computer specialists, archivists and  librarians are
    20    already delving into the subject, but historians, for the most
    21    part, are unaware of the nature or direction of the discussion on
    22    electronic publishing.+1+   Many within the profession are
    23    familiar with computers and use them on a daily basis to write
    24    papers, books, etc., but that has been the extent of their
    25    relationship with the technology. Articles in journals like
    26    <History and Computing> impart insights into the application of
    27    computers for statistical analysis; the article by Angelique
    28    Janssens entitled 'Managing Longitudinal Historical Data:  An
    29    Example from Nineteenth Century Dutch Population Registers' is
    30    typical of the work being done.+2+  However, despite the value of
    31    such studies, the broader questions relating to the exploitation
    32    of non-statistical information stored in an electronic format or
    33    the publication of scholarly research in an electronic medium are
    34    not being examined.  I start this discussion on the note that
    35    electronic publishing will alter the way in which all historians
    36    undertake and present their research and my intent is to point
    37    out the general positive and negative aspects of this
    38    development.  I encourage discussion and I look forward to a
    39    lively and open debate on the issues raised by this paper.
    42    The first issue which historians need to address is the cost
    43    implications of electronic publishing.  The technology offers
    44    cost savings to archives and libraries, and the most significant
    45    savings will come in the form of smaller and fewer facilities for
    46    the storage of documents and files.  A typical compact optical
    47    disk (CD) can contain the equivalent of one hundred average-sized
    48    books.  The financial advantages of storing records and documents
    49    in an electronic format are certainly known to governments,
    50    librarians and record managers who are struggling to meet budget
    51    restrictions while trying to preserve the collections/records in
    52    their care.  Faced with the option of storing the equivalent of
    53    one hundred books on three metres of shelves or in a container
    54    less than one centimetre in width, many people would and are
    55    choosing the latter.  Information stored in an electronic format
    56    offers another advantage which comes in the form of portability. 
    57    What was once a drain on resources can be easily transformed into
    58    a revenue generating commodity. Governments and other
    59    institutions are already realizing revenue by renting out
    60    information stored in an electronic format to private profit-
    61    oriented corporations with a stake in the dissemination of
    62    information.  These information vendors control vast quantities
    63    of statistical and non-statistical information, and the
    64    implications of such a development must not escape the
    65    attention of historians.  
    67    Traditionally, we have had relatively easy and free access to
    68    archival material.  In many cases all that was needed to gain
    69    entry to an archive was a letter of introduction from a respected
    70    colleague or the government official responsible for the records.
    71    Such unfettered and free access will soon be a thing of the past. 
    72    Generally, the major expenses historians have incurred to further
    73    their research were travel and accommodation related.  Now we
    74    face the prospect of having to pay 'by the minute' for the
    75    information we require.  Anyone who has done archival search will
    76    admit that the work is laborious and time consuming and often
    77    hundreds of cartons are examined with few positive leads; 
    78    retrieving information from profit oriented archives or <Online
    79    Information Vendors> will have a devastating impact on scholarly
    80    research.  For this reason alone, historians need to have an
    81    input into the decisions relating to the storage, and sale of
    82    records in an electronic format. 
    85    We also have to give some thought to how we access material
    86    stored in an electronic form.+3+  So much information can be
    87    crammed onto the typical tape or magnetic disk that it is
    88    impossible to know what information is accessible.   Obviously,
    89    we need to focus our attention on the creation of comprehensive
    90    indices.  While the technology of the moment facilitates keyword
    91    searches, it offers few clues as to the true contents of an
    92    electronic database.  Future historians will be denied the luxury
    93    of leafing through a book or file, and the possibility exists
    94    that valuable information will remain hidden because the
    95    technology or indices do not facilitate its discovery. 
    98    Furthermore, information stored in an electronic medium, by its
    99    very nature, defies the historical methods which historians have
   100    applied over the years.  The historians of the twentieth century
   101    are increasingly aware of the difficulties.  In short, historians
   102    need to contemplate methods for the analysis of non-statistical
   103    information stored in an electronic format.  Such information is
   104    so easily modified, altered or destroyed:  Policy- and decision-
   105    makers with the touch of a few keys on a keyboard can erase notes
   106    and drafts which can provide valuable insights into the working
   107    of the  writer's mind or the machinations of governments. 
   108    Furthermore, the data  can be manipulated by record managers,
   109    archivists and others with read and  write access to the original
   110    tapes or disks.  
   113    The events of the recent Iran-Contra Affair should have given
   114    historians reason to pause and consider the implications of the
   115    storage and transmission of information in an electronic format. 
   116    While, the destruction of paper documents was highly publicized,
   117    the deletion of computer files was poorly reported.  In fact the
   118    latter act is of greater significance since computers are
   119    extensively used for a variety of purposes in many government
   120    offices. A user with the appropriate access can delete or corrupt
   121    not only one file,  but entire databases without leaving a record
   122    of the act.  The question  before us is:  'Does the writer, the
   123    publisher or the record keeper have  final responsibility for the
   124    preservation of electronic data?   Every user  of computers is
   125    aware of the importance of maintaining backups, but the 
   126    inclination to destroy files which consume disk space is
   127    overpowering.   Anyone faced with the dilemma of having to go to
   128    the local stationer's shop or office supply depot to purchase
   129    extra disks, or deleting old material on a disk which has not
   130    been used in some time, appreciates how easy it is to delete
   131    information.  In addition the simple matter of labelling disks is
   132    something which few in government or private life approach in a
   133    consistent manner.  The possibility of lost information is so
   134    great that historians face an uphill battle in this regard.
   137    While the publication of material in an electronic format gives
   138    rise to unique problems, such as those described above,
   139    electronic publishing nevertheless provides great opportunities
   140    for academic and non-academic writers and readers alike.  The
   141    writer is transformed into a publisher and ideas can be
   142    disseminated cheaply and to a large audience across the globe. 
   143    No longer is the writer bound by the logistical restraints of
   144    publishing.  The writer and reader can interact in a manner
   145    impossible in the past; no longer is either confined by space or
   146    time.  As soon as the material is in the public domain, readers
   147    can address the strengths and weaknesses of the work.  The
   148    readers of 'true' online electronic journals like the <Online
   149    Modern History Review> can present to a broad community the notes
   150    they otherwise would only make in the margins of their personal
   151    copies.  This modern form of marginalia will undoubtedly generate
   152    discussion and debate which can only benefit writers and readers
   153    alike.  For the first time, readers will be able to gauge the
   154    thoughts and views of other readers --specialist and non-
   155    specialist, and be in a position to offer their own insights and
   156    reservations.
   159    The profession can not but benefit from this development. 
   160    Electronic publishing forces historians to consider the needs of
   161    a much broader audience.   As historians have specialized, the
   162    reading audience has grown considerably smaller, and in many
   163    instances the only readers of specialized, parochial and esoteric
   164    books and articles are the very people who were asked to review
   165    the works.+4+   As the competition for recognition and academic
   166    standing increases, current scholarly publishing hardly satisfies
   167    the needs of the scholar knocking at the doors of academe or the
   168    established scholar who seeks to disseminate a novel and
   169    unpopular/contradictory interpretation.  Electronic publishing
   170    provides avenues for research and expression which will advance
   171    the position of independent, unaffiliated scholars -- 'public
   172    intellectuals'.+5+
   175    Networks like Internet are the backbone of electronic publishing
   176    and it is imperative that historians fully exploit this valuable
   177    resource.  The amount of information currently available to
   178    anyone with access to a computer and Internet is mindboggling. 
   179    Sitting in the comfort of my study I can peruse the catalogues of
   180    the Library of Congress, the British Library, the Cambridge
   181    University Library and other great and not-so great university
   182    libraries through the world. I can participate in the Dante
   183    Project (Divine Comedy and Reviews); read H. G. Wells' short
   184    stories;  retrieve information on the latest research in
   185    Genetics; search a Law library for the latest laws on a specific
   186    subject; or read the latest judgments of the U.S. Supreme Court. 
   187    If I am technically inclined, I can retrieve shareware and public
   188    domain software from an archive in Finland or Australia which I
   189    can later employ to facilitate my research. I might want to
   190    search the Bible, the Koran, the Book of Mormon, etc.  In short I
   191    have the resources of past and present civilizations at my
   192    fingertips.+6+  
   195    The technology does have its limits and at the moment the most
   196    serious limitation of 'true' online books and journals is the
   197    presentation of graphic images alongside the text.  The terminal
   198    displays used on networks like Internet are for the most part
   199    text-based and bereft of special character and multiple fonts
   200    capabilities.  However, this limitation is surmountable as
   201    graphics can be attached as separate files in either a GIF, PCX,
   202    GEM or TIFF format+7+ and can be viewed on most PC-DOS (IBM or
   203    compatible) or Macintosh computers using the appropriate
   204    software.  Users of electronic data can incorporate the ASCII
   205    text and graphic into virtually every word-processing package.+8+
   208    In fine, electronic publishing technology, despite its
   209    limitations, has created windows of opportunity for historians
   210    who seek to reach a larger audience.   Electronic publishing is
   211    democratic if access is not limited either by the technology or
   212    the cost of exploiting government or private databanks.  Our task
   213    as historians is to master the technology, to discover its
   214    strengths so as to gain some control over the flow of information
   215    which is accumulating daily.   To some it might seem that the
   216    wave of information is uncontrollable, but, personally, I am
   217    optimistic.  The key, in my mind,  is to see the technology for
   218    what it is -- a vehicle for the expression of  ideas -- and it is
   219    our responsibility as the keepers of the past to ensure  that
   220    those ideas are accessible and available to future generations
   221    who  seek to know where our civilization has been.
   228                                    <ENDNOTES>
   232         +1+Consult: Michael B. Spring, <Electronic printing and
   233    publishing: the document processing revolution>  (New York: M.
   234    Dekker, 1991);   Tony Feldman, ed., <Electronic publishing
   235    perspectives : present and future>  (London: Blueprint; New York,
   236    NY: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1990);   Amy Lucas and Kathleen J.
   237    Edgar, <Information systems and services> (Detroit, Mich.: Gale
   238    Research Co., 1990);   <Electronic publishing : the new way to
   239    communicate : proceedings of the Symposium on Electronic
   240    Publishing, 5-7 November 1986, Luxembourg>  (London: Kogan Page,
   241    1987);   Ahmed H. Helal and Joachim W. Weiss, <New trends in
   242    electronic publishing and electronic libraries: Essen Symposium,
   243    29 August-31 August 1983>  (Essen: Gesamthochschulbibliothek
   244    Essen, 1984);   John Gurnsey,  <Electronic publishing trends in
   245    the United States and Europe>  (Oxford; Medford, N.J.: Learned
   246    Information, 1982);
   249         +2+<History and Computing,> 3, no. 3 (1991): 161-174.  For
   250    similar  studies see: Lars Nygaard, 'Name Standardization in
   251    Record Linking: An  Improved Algorithmic Strategy,' <History and
   252    Computing,> 4, no. 2 (1992):  63-74; John B. Friedmann, 'Cluster
   253    Analysis and the Manuscript Chronology  of William du Stiphel, a
   254    Fourteenth Century Scribe at Durham,' <History and  Computing,>
   255    4, no. 2 (1992): 75-97; Ulrike Albrecht, 'Factory Tables as a 
   256    Source for a Databank on the Economic and Social History of
   257    Flensburg in  the 18th and 19th Centuries,' <History and
   258    Computing,> 3, no. 1 (1991):  36-44.  At the other extreme are
   259    the studies on how to use the commercial  software packages. 
   260    Some of the most recent works are:  Donald Spaeth,  'Stonyroyd: a
   261    Computer-Based Learning Package for Historians,' <History and 
   262    Computing,> 3, no. 1 (1991): 55-59; Sarah Davnall, 'Bibliographic
   263    Software  for PC's,' <History and Computing,> 4, no. 2 (1992):
   264    139-141; John Wilkes,  'Disk Utilities Software: PC Tools and
   265    Norton Utilities,' <History and  Computing,> 4, no. 2 (1992):
   266    142-144.
   269         +3+<Informing the nation : federal information dissemination
   270    in an electronic age>  (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Congress, Office
   271    of Technology Assessment, 1988).
   274         +4+Readers are encouraged to read Russell Jacoby's
   275    provocative work on the state of modern academe. Russell Jacoby,
   276    <The Last Intellectuals:  American Culture in the Age of Academe>
   277    (New York: The Noonday Press, 1987).
   280         +5+'Writers and thinkers who address a general and educated
   281    audience'.  See Ibid., p. 5.
   284         +6+<Directory of electronic journals, newsletters and
   285    academic discussion lists [computer file]>  (Washington, D.C.:
   286    Association of Research Libraries, Office of Scientific and
   287    Academic Publishing, 1991).
   290         +7+Common graphic formats.  For a discussion of the latest
   291    graphic technology consult:   Marcus, Araon,  <Graphic design for
   292    electronic documents and user interfaces>  (New York, N.Y.: ACM
   293    Press; Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1992).
   296         +8+Wordperfect, Geowrite, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Works,
   297    Wordstar, Macwrite, PFS Write, Ami Pro, etc.
   310                                  <BIBLIOGRAPHY>
   313    Reference Material, Government Documents and Periodicals:
   314    --------------------------------------------------------
   317    <Chicago guide to preparing electronic manuscripts for authors 
   318         and publishers.>  Chicago: University of Chicago Press,
   319         1987.
   322    <Directory of electronic journals, newsletters and academic 
   323         discussion lists [computer file].>  Washington, D.C.:
   324         Association of Research Libraries, Office of Scientific
   325         and Academic Publishing, 1991.
   328    <Electronic publishing: the new way to communicate; proceedings 
   329         of the Symposium on Electronic Publishing, 5-7 November
   330         1986, Luxembourg.> London: Kogan Page, 1987.
   332    <History & computing.>
   335    <Informing the nation : federal information dissemination in an 
   336         electronic age.>  Washington, D.C.: U.S. Congress,
   337         Office of Technology Assessment, 1988.
   340    Kehoe, Brendan P. <Zen and the Art of the Internet: A Beginner's
   341         Guide to the Internet.>  Chester, PA: Brendan P. Kehoe,
   342         1992.
   346    Secondary Sources:
   347    -----------------
   350    Aaron, Marcus. <Graphic design for electronic documents and user
   351         interfaces.>  New York, N.Y.: ACM Press; Reading,
   352         Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1992.
   355    Albrecht, Ulrike.  'Factory Tables as a Source for a Databank on
   356         the Economic and Social History of Flensburg in the
   357         18th and 19th Centuries.' <History and Computing,>  3,
   358         no.1. (1991): 36-44.
   361    Davnall, Sarah.  'Bibliographic Software for PC's.' <History and
   362         Computing,>  4, no.2. (1992): 139-141.
   365    Denley, Peter and Deian Hopkin.  <History and computing.> 
   366         Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1987.
   369    Feldman, Tony. Ed. <Electronic publishing perspectives : present
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   374    Folgelvik, Stefan and Harvey, Charles. <History and computing 
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   379    Friedmann, John B.  'Cluster Analysis and the Manuscript 
   380         Chronology of William du Stiphel, a Fourteenth Century
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   382         (1992): 75-97.
   385    Gurnsey, John.  <Electronic publishing trends in the United 
   386         States and Europe.>  Oxford; Medford, N.J.: Learned
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   390    Helal, Ahmed H. and Weiss, Joachim W.  <New trends in electronic
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   396    Jacoby, Russell. <The Last Intellectuals:  American Culture in 
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   401    Jannssens, Angelique. 'Managing Longitudinal Historical Data:  An
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   407    Kist, Joost, <Electronic Publishing:  Looking for a Blueprint.> 
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   421    Nygaard, Lars  'Name Standardization in Record Linking: An 
   422         Improved Algorithmic Strategy.' <History and
   423         Computing,>  4, no.2. (1992): 63-74.
   426    Spaeth, Donald.  'Stonyroyd: a Computer-Based Learning Package 
   427         for Historians.' <History and Computing,> 3, no.1.
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   431    Spring, Michael B. <Electronic printing and publishing : the 
   432         document processing revolution.>  New York: M. Dekker,
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   436    Wilkes, John.  'Disk Utilities Software: PC Tools and Norton 
   437         Utilities.'  <History and Computing> 4, no.2. (1992):
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