Re: jrnl launch meeting announcement (for Friday 24th of August 2018)

This is a reply to “jrnl launch meeting announcement (for Friday 24th of August 2018)”.

It’s a little surprising that the Journal/jrnl in an already very, very specific form is supposed to be the main topic, despite it’s still unclear to which extent the potential participants write about their research and work or plan to, or if that should be the main interest or first strategic goal for now. For a long time, I keep repeating that even WordPress comes with many problems, I wonder who’s supposed to work on these. The proposal continues to suggest that the jrnl should exist as just another blog or website, following the traditional model of the WWW that seriously lacks actual hypertext capabilities.

The announcement also mentions that “the first use of the jrnl will be to make a digital version of the analog book we will produce for this year’s special Future of Text: 50th years Anniversary of Doug Engelbart’s Demo”. I’m puzzled when reading such statements in 2018. The analog book should be made into a digital version and not the other way around? If that activity would succeed, the “Journal” would be a failure right away. I understand well that the Doug@50 project should get their permanent record of their proceedings, but as it’s about the web of knowledge and Journal was abandoned, there’s now no other way to do it than as the book printing guild and publishing industry is doing it since the beginning of time. What role does a printed book even play in relation to a web of concepts/topics/knowledge? I’m left completely clueless.

There’s the question how familiar people are with using WordPress for writing/publishing. We could break this down into the separate capabilities that are grouped into this meta- or super-capability, bundled into the WordPress package in a not too fortunate manner. It’s a text editor (the only “advantage” is inherited from the property of web scripting that the “application” will remotely execute on the client without the need to explicitly install it), it can publish the text on the network (enabling the retrieval of the resource), it assigns it a unique ID. We could easily replace those capabilities with other implementations that create far less problems than WordPress because of its webbiness, WYSIWYG, etc., but any other alternative would go against the established paradigm and can never get support or consensus, so it’s not unlikely that we will need to work around and abuse WordPress in quite horrible ways just to not lose the entrapped material that will go into that system. As there might be people who are unable or unwilling to publish in useful ways and hopefully can at least get used to WordPress (if at all), it’s probably better to collect their submissions on WordPress than to not take it, even as this will demand manual curation and certainly can’t stay at that place when considering how it is set up at the moment. WordPress might serve as an totally agnostic storage system, that’s basically it.

Copyright (C) 2018 Stephan Kreutzer. This text is licensed under the GNU Affero General Public License 3 + any later version and/or under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International.

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