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To: Tom Dwyer, Shana Kimball, and Alexa Ducsay (University of Michigan Press/Library)
From: Jack Dougherty and Kristen Nawrotzki
Re: Progress report on Writing History in the Digital Age
Date: June 15, 2011
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 We offer this brief update regarding our progress on Writing History in the Digital Age since publicly releasing our open call for ideas/essay and launching the site on May 24th, with two weeks remaining in our first phase, ending June 30th. Our goal is to openly share information about our experience in building a born-digital edited volume, to benefit the University of Michigan Press & Library and others who are experimenting with new forms of scholarly communication. (A copy of this letter also appears on our public site.)
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Publicity strategy and web traffic:
During the past three weeks, we have circulated our open call for ideas/essays via email, listserv, blog, and twitter technology, given our need for communicate quickly with scholars interested in digital history before the June 30th essay idea deadline. According to Google Analytics, our website has received over 1,600 hits from nearly 800 unique visitors during the initial three-week period, with an average time of 3 minutes spent viewing our site. (Our own administrator accounts do not appear in this data.)
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- personalized email invitations that we sent to potential contributors, whom we identified via our web searches of digital history over the past several months. We sent over 100 such emails, with a direct URL link (our most popular traffic source), and many sent personal replies.
- an H-Net announcement, which has delivered about 11 percent of our web traffic
- a Chronicle of Higher Ed/ProfHacker guest post, responsible for 6 percent of our traffic
- blog posts at digitalculture.org, the AHA blog.historians.org, and several individual sites
- Twitter posts that were redistributed by digital scholars with many followers
- a brief presentation at THATCamp at the Center for History & New Media
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Comments on Essay Ideas page:
As of June 15th, a total of 107 comments have been posted on our “essay idea” online discussion page. About two-thirds of these were written by visitors, and one-third by the co-editors. To date, over 30 different visitors have posted comments on the site, most at least one paragraph, and some longer. Several potential contributors have responded positively when we “pushed back” on their initial topic and asked them to explain its significance to our central theme or elaborate with an example. Also, several substantive exchanges have arisen between readers who are engaging with each other’s ideas, thus helping all of us to refine the volume as a whole.
¶ 7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 We began the site with 10 sample essay ideas, and at this writing, visitors have posted 20 new essay ideas that we deemed worthy of moving to the main list for further discussion. Another 10 individuals have emailed one of us about their plans to post an idea before we conclude this phase on June 30th. We will email & tweet all of our potential contributors to remind them that only two weeks remain for posting their essay ideas. There will be some attrition, of course, but it seems possible that we may receive around 20 essay submissions prior to the August 15th deadline.
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Next steps with the Press:
1) We have corresponded with Alexa about adopting language from the Press’ Contributors’ Agreement for our online submissions statement, and we await the next draft from her.
¶ 9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 2) We are preparing to send the Press a list of candidates for external reviewers for the open review period this fall, and would appreciate your support in obtaining input from the Series editors and contacting individual candidates.
¶ 10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 3) We plan to submit a proposal for the HASTAC conference, to be held at the University of Michigan in early December 2011, and will send you a draft prior to the June 30th deadline, in case anyone from the Press or Library wishes to join our proposal.