Digital scholarly publishing with mediacommons.futureofthebook.org

mediacommons.futureofthebook.org is an online social networking site for scholars with a focus on the field of media studies.  The site’s main purpose is to promote scholarly digital publication while discussing any topic in the context of the ‘scholarly circulation of discourse’.  The creators hope that the promotion of digital-only scholarly publication will eventually reap professional benefits for scholars, such as consideration in tenure reviews.  The project is supported jointly by the Annenberg Center for Communication at USC and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

In addition to providing discussion forums and original articles the site links with many scholarly blogs, wikis, journals, and digital monographs, as well as other larger digital publishing initiatives such as In Media Res, and Shakespeare QuarterlyTwitter, LinkedIn, FriendFeed, Gmail, and Yahoo mail are also connected to the site and provide users with opportunities to link these accounts to their mediacommons account and find contacts across different networks.

Tags are attached to every post which makes it useful to search by subject, media, or author but users are unable to browse authors or content by an alphabetical list. The search function is limited to only ‘content’ and ‘user’ searches, however this is still more effective than a Google search.  Users also have the option of ‘tracking’ an author to view all their posts and can receive updates when new ones are added.

The site incorporates a number of  tools from blogs, wikis, and microblogging technology.  Users can change their status (with a limit of 140 characters), can post their own work,  link to others’ works, comment on other users posts, and can contribute to the larger publication projects the site hosts.  Publications by users can be imported from outside databases, and like many social networking sites a network of contacts, called “colleagues”, can be established.

The site has an editorial board who monitor the development of larger publishing projects such as Shakespeare Quarterly and In Media Res, while selecting stories to be promoted on the home page.  By implementing a peer-to-peer review process, they are also what set this site apart from most online blogs and discussion forums.  This process has been slowly implemented by using member’s knowledge in specific fields to review each others’ works, making the site more interactive, and providing more credibility to the information posted.

Here is our SMiLey rating for this site:

Overall Score 3.6
Site Purpose
Findability
Usability
Sociability
Popularity
[Read about the SMiLey rating]