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Digital Technology and the Practices of Humanities Research
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8. Critical Mass: The Listserv and the Early Online Community as a Case Study in the Unanticipated Consequences of Innovation in Scholarly Communication

Daniel Paul O’Donnell

© Daniel Paul O’Donnell, CC BY 4.0 https://doi.org/10.11647/OBP.0192.08

Scholarly communication today exists in a state we might best describe as ‘revolutionary stasis’.

On the one hand, it is hard not to be impressed by the disruptive potential that networked computing brings to the way researchers disseminate their results. The development of the Web thirty years ago ushered in a period in which scholars could organise, collaborate, and publish in fundamentally different ways than any time previously. There are new economic models for scholarly publishing, new models for career evaluation and progress, and new understandings of the relationship between scholars and the general public.

However, at the same time, given this revolutionary potential, it is also hard not to be impressed equally by the difficulty these new ideas have had in actually disrupting pre-web ways of working. Indeed, in many cases, traditional markers of success and prestige have become, if anything, even more tenacious and entrenched than they were before. Tim Berners-Lee first rolled out the World Wide Web in early 1991.1 While there has been a slow-but-steady rise in the number of open access journals, academic publishing is still dominated by the same few presses (e.g. in the humanities: Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, Blackwell’s, and Routledge).2 Groups like the Modern Language Association (MLA) have worked to develop new forms of evaluation to accommodate new digital and collaborative forms of scholarship,3 even as measures of impact that focus on secondary and more traditional markers of use or prestige — such as citation count or journal impact4 — have become increasingly important through national evaluation schemes such as the United Kingdom’s Research Excellence Framework (REF), or the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA).5

In this chapter, I argue that this frustrating state of affairs stems from a misunderstanding of how technological change works in scholarly communication. Although it is very tempting to assume that new platforms, methods of working, and economic models will replace their traditional counterparts, the experience of the last thirty years has demonstrated that new developments in this space tend, instead, to be complementary rather than competitive: that is to say that they introduce additional channels of communication or ways of working rather than replace existing ones. In this sense, our frustration with the degree to which technology has not changed scholarly communication may be because we are looking for the change in the wrong places; it is by supplementing and building on what came before, rather than, for the most part, replacing previous methods in fundamental ways, that such innovations ultimately change the way we work.

The Listserv as Case Study

This is perhaps nowhere more apparent than in the history of the academic listserv.6 Today, the listserv is a work-a-day technology with a very clear role in professional academia: it is one of our principal channels for distributing news and advertisements, calls for papers, conference announcements, changes in address, job vacancies, and technical tips. In the early 1990s, however, the listserv was understood by early-adopting humanists (and humanists were among the very first to use this new technology in a formal academic context) as a potentially revolutionary replacement for a variety of formal academic communication channels, such as the college classroom, the scholarly journal, the academic conference, and even the scholarly society. Exploring the history of this now well-understood technology allows us to see how new dissemination models are incorporated alongside existing channels, thus improving our ability to conduct and report on research without necessarily altering our previous practices. This is ‘downstream’ from the digital humanities, both in the sense that the first uses and theoretical discussions of the listserv came from the same ‘humanities computing’ specialists who were responsible for establishing our discipline, and in the sense that studying the impact of such technologies and practices is a core interest of our field. The lessons we learn from the introduction of the listserv, moreover, can help us understand how newer technologies and models with apparently equally revolutionary potential (e.g., the preprint server; social web services such as Humanities Commons, Academia.edu, and ResearchGate; data publication; overlay journals; and scholar-published open access journals) might in fact end up affecting our practice.7

First, however, we must go back in time — to rediscover the initial excitement felt by such researchers when they first realised the potential of the listserv.

You’ve got Mail

Although it seems strange to say it today, one of the most exciting periods in the history of what we now call the ‘digital humanities’ came in the late 1980s and early 1990s, with the introduction of email and, especially, the LISTSERV mailing list distribution utility to early-adopting humanists.8

Email today is understood by most as being, at best, a necessary evil.9 We complain about it at conferences. There are books and articles on how to manage it.10 And it is one of the few constants, along with caffeinated drinks, that are mentioned in almost every blog published during the annual Day in the Life of the Digital Humanities (Day of DH) event, when digital humanities researchers contribute to a discipline-wide account of their activities on a single day.11

Today, we tend to manage, rather than celebrate, our mailing lists. Services like Google Inbox (recently cancelled) or SaneBox offer to filter out news items so that they do not distract from other messages.12 Some governments even regulate such lists, including those run by non-profits and voluntary groups, by requiring explicit consent from participants.13

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, however, both email and mailing lists were understood much more positively. Email addresses and traffic were carried on several different primarily or wholly academic and government networks (BITNET, Internet, and Usenet). Before the National Science Foundation (NSF) began to allow public and commercial access to its Internet in 1992,14 academic email users rarely, if ever, saw posts from non-academics. ‘Spam’ (i.e. the use of programs similar to LISTSERV to send commercial emails to multiple recipients) was literally unheard of; the first known commercial mass mailing occurred in April 1994, and the term ‘spam’ for unwanted messages is thought to have been coined a year earlier.15 As Robin Peek, who began research for her 1997 dissertation in 1991, argues:

With these changes, the day of the Internet as a cozy and self-contained academic enclave came to an end. Before 1992, the cultural norms of the Internet, and its oversight by [the] NSF, blocked commercial use of the network. Advertising or charging for use of the Internet was unacceptable. Now, several years later, commercial enterprises freely advertise their wares. The number of Internet users entering the Internet through non-academic providers has grown rapidly. The academic community must now share the Internet with many others who have no direct ties to colleges and universities. Thus, the Internet after 1992 was not the same as the Internet of 1991.16

The LISTSERV Revolution

To Peek, who was finishing her dissertation at the near the height of the dot-com bubble,17 the days of the prelapsarian, university-based Internet in which she began may have seemed ‘cozy and self-contained’. But to the pioneers who set up the first academic mailing lists in the second half of the 1980s and early 1990s, the opportunities offered by email and LISTSERV seemed far more expansive and revolutionary. Indeed, to a degree unmatched perhaps even by the flush of excitement that later followed the popularisation of the World Wide Web in the mid-to-late 1990s, academic mailing lists were understood by their early adopters as representing a profoundly disruptive challenge to existing forms of scholarly organisation and communication (see, for example, the historian Erwin K. Welsch, who largely ignores the World Wide Web in his 1994 discussion of what he ‘consider[s] to be some important sources for the newly wired historian’ but offers instead distinct sections on ‘listservers’ and Usenet groups).18

Teresa M. Harrison and Timothy Stephen are typical of this understanding of the power of what they considered to be an ‘altogether new form of discourse’.19 Like many of those writing and commenting on academic mailing lists at this time, they were already aware of some of the negative qualities that would come to characterise the format: cliquish behaviour, the domination of discussion by a few frequent posters, problems with focus, and, perhaps especially in their discussion, the difficulty of rewarding professional academics for supporting the public good of academic discussion using a system that is not countenanced by contemporary reward systems.20

However, while they are alive to the difficulties associated with the nascent medium, Harrison and Stephen retain a remarkably disruptive and expansive understanding of its possibilities and significance:

One of the crucial advantages of computer-mediated communication lies in its ability to bring into contact individuals who, due to geography and time constraints, would otherwise be unable to interact with one another on a regular basis […]. The ability to overcome time and space constraints means that it is far easier to bring individuals together on an interpersonal basis. But CMC [Computer Mediated Communication] has been expected to have a far-reaching and positive effect on the scope and quality of scholarly discourse because it allows groups of individuals to exchange information and resources as well as to interact together in ‘computer conferences’ that address topics of mutual interest.21

The Invisible Seminar

This understanding of the mailing list as a ‘conference’, ‘seminar’, ‘college’, ‘journal’, or other computer-mediated representation of an existing academic form is characteristic of one of the two main approaches to the design of online, email-based communities taken by pioneers in the mid-1980s and early 1990s.22 In his account of the origins of Humanist, for example, Willard McCarty frequently returns to the appropriateness of the academic seminar — ‘a kind of long conversation, convened by a single person but conducted by everyone for mutual enlightenment’23 — as a metaphor for the mailing list and a guide to his decision-making in its earliest days:

HUMANIST was formed with little knowledge of networks but strong convictions of what a network for humanists should be like. As editor I was convinced that an e-seminar would gain respect and attract thoughtful people only if it were itself to embody what it sought: mindfulness, and love of language, including respect for spelling, grammar, style, and accuracy of expression.24

While the list began as an unmoderated exchange (i.e. where messages from individual subscribers were distributed directly, without any editorial intervention), complaints about information overload and a sudden burst of ‘junk mail’ stemming from a repeated set of administrative error messages led McCarty to adopt the edited-digest model that characterises the list to this day: posts from subscribers are collected into thematic or generically organised digests, each of which is given a volume and issue number.25

Similarly formal approaches characterised other mailing lists established at this time, for example, the LINGUIST List (1990),26 the Bryn Mawr Classical Review (1990),27 Postmodern Culture (1990),28 and the Public Access Computer Systems Review (1989).29 All of these lists shared the same underlying technology (initially, in most cases, the same LISTSERV utility). All showed a similar commitment to modelling themselves on traditional academic activities or genres, including, characteristically, providing strong editorial moderation and adopting print-era finding aids such as volume and issue numbers (an understandable decision when we remember that before the development of WebCrawler in 1994, there were no full-text search engines; before that, only titles and metadata were indexed).30 Peek, who excluded journal-type mailing lists from the sample used in her dissertation, nevertheless found the model to be quite widespread at the time, to the extent that even lists that did not formally describe themselves as ‘journals’, or ‘conferences’, or ‘seminars’ nevertheless commonly adopted the model.31

The Invisible Water-Cooler

The second main approach to online communities during this period was sometimes described, usually dismissively, as the ‘water-cooler’.32 Because this approach to community-building was later adopted by the major commercial social media platforms (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram), and because it has become the default format for new academic mailing lists today (e.g., Digital Medievalist, Global Outlook::Digital Humanities), it appears in many ways more familiar to us than the list-as-‘seminar’ or ‘journal’. Indeed, a Google search shows that ‘water-cooler’ is now a common element in the name of such mailing lists outside academia.

In the early 1990s, however, this format appears to have been much less common, especially when compared to the ‘journal’ or ‘conference’ form. Peek, who had hoped to focus primarily on such ‘water-cooler’ lists across research disciplines, was ultimately forced to reduce the breadth of her sample due to a lack, in many fields, of suitably active communities of this type.33 In other words, what is now the dominant format of the technology was, in its early days, far less popular than its ‘revolutionary’ cousin.

The characteristic feature of the ‘water-cooler’ type list is that it does not group its messages topically, or organise or moderate them centrally in an analogy to physical-world academic models. Instead, such groups treat the mailing list as a conversational space in which members ask and answer queries, post announcements, and, in the early years at least, engaged in long-form and short-form discussion, debate, and commentary.

Ansax-l,34 a mailing list for Anglo-Saxonists founded in 1986 as one of the first academic discussion lists in any discipline, adopted this social approach self-consciously. As list-founder, Patrick W. Conner described it a few years after its creation:

The primary consideration in creating an efficient electronic discussion group is not technical, but social. It is not enough to amass the names of a group of individuals who may or may not be interested in the focus of the list and to tell them how to contact one another; what is needed is a core of participants who will have reasons to correspond with one another, who will introduce more people to the list, and who can be counted upon to become dependent on the discussion group they themselves create […]

A successful list in the humanities, and probably any list, has to be modeled on an analogy to some social group, such as the extended family or lodge or even college fraternity/sorority. Members have to have full access to one another, and to the group as a whole, to achieve this sort of collegiality, especially when contacts may not be repeated.35

Aware that the more heavily curated approach adopted subsequently by lists such as Humanist more closely mirrored the traditional print formats familiar to established members of the discipline, Conner reports that he worked hard at establishing alternate content and rhetorical models for Ansax-l:

The means […] of guaranteeing full access socially on ANSAXNET is to de-emphasize titles and honorifics. Of course, I do not introduce nicknames as sometimes happens on public bulletin boards, but I address all members by their first names without the ‘dear’ and sign myself as ‘Patrick’ without the ‘Sincerely’. For the electronic discussion group to be useful, a graduate student at an American land grant institution, for example, must be capable of exchanging information, without intimidation, with a professor at Oxford or Yale whose work he/she has read.

Perhaps more significantly for the development of the form as a channel for scholarly communication, Conner realised early on that the listserv would also require a different approach to evidence, citation, and relevance:

For persons used to what I have called the ‘print’ paradigm, there is no place for ad-lib comments which are not founded on exhaustive bibliographies and thrice-scrutinized logic. Good journals only accept those sorts of scholarly studies, so that many people simply cannot see how an off-the-cuff comment by someone who has not otherwise established his/her credibility in acceptable print media can have value on the list or anywhere else.

[…I]t is significant that this is an attitude which I have never encountered in new, relatively unpublished scholars. Why should untried scholars not be just as discriminating (or discriminatory) about what they want to read on the list? […] I think that it is because they are aware that telecommunications exchanges offer a very different model for disseminating professional information, and such an awareness creates a tolerance for chat even when it is irrelevant to their interests. Just as scholars wedded to the print paradigm do not hesitate to read a single work in a book of essays without complaining about the irrelevant items, so the emergent group of telecommunicators have no problem in deleting from their readers materials [that] which the message’s subject line shows to be irrelevant.36

In keeping with this approach, the models Conner cites for the new list, while occasionally drawing on recognised forms of academic social organisation (e.g., the ‘college fraternity/sorority’, the ‘senior common room’, the ‘faculty club’), do not include channels or offices traditionally associated with formal scholarly dissemination. In Conner’s model for his list there are no references to examples of journals, newsletters, seminars, or conference sessions, and, above all, there is no official editorial leadership. While he plays the role of moderator and attempts to keep the discussion going, he notes that he tries to avoid putting his stamp on the proceedings:

ANSAXNET has adopted the model of the modern craft or collector’s guild which reasons that the individual’s purpose in associating in the first place is the exchange of information. I therefore look for all of the information I can find which might be of interest to an Anglo-Saxonist, sometimes gathering it from other discussion groups and sometimes from print notices which cross my desk, and I post it to the list. If someone sends out a query to which no one else responds, then I respond on-line to make sure that ANSAXNET is perceived by its members as more than a list of addresses which might someday be of use. While on [the] one hand I try to ensure that no one perceives ANSAXNET as merely a personal forum for my ideas, on the other hand I work to maintain an identification with the discussion group, because the perception that a human being is regularly monitoring activities means that all members know that their messages will always be read by at least one other person. I believe that disorder for an electronic discussion group can be defined as the perception by some critical number of members that no one is paying attention. Chat to which no one responds or which is allowed to die helps create this perception, so it is important that observations and queries evoke other observations and queries.37

When he does compare his list to a more formal academic channel, namely the academic conference, the reference is to the ‘paradiscussion’ that takes place in the hallways rather than the papers that take place in the lecture hall.

The informal transmission of ideas via such rhetoric, which is to be read by everyone but which ostensibly responds to a specific situation or an earlier note, is called ‘chat’. Chat is a way to avoid the professional isolation which we often feel at our own universities: it permits interchanges which do not have to begin at the beginning. It serves the social purpose of allowing members who do not know each other personally to establish a kind of ‘epistolary’ relationship, rather like the ‘networking’ many persons now say is the primary purpose of attending conferences.38

What Is It that an Academic Mailing List Disrupts?

I have quoted Conner at length because his emphasis on the importance of para-academic social organisations and practices over more formal scholarly elements in the design of Ansaxnet was as unusual for the time as it is the norm today. When researchers in the 1990s discussed the revolutionary power of ‘computer-mediated communication’ to transcend time and space, their focus was on the virtual conference panel rather than the virtual coffee break. The disruption they thought was coming (like the disruption we have assumed will accompany subsequent technological developments) involved the disruption of existing formal channels of scholarly dissemination, rather than, as actually turned out to be the case, the informal channels. Where we tend to see the listserv as a cross between a memo and a ‘water-cooler’, they saw it as a means for disrupting the conference and introducing a new channel for the development and dissemination of research.39

Conner too, despite his social models and emphasis on chat, saw real-time research collaboration, the provision of feedback and resources, and debate about specific topics as being necessary for demonstrating the list’s relevance to its members. As he noted in one contribution to ‘Bicoastal Beowulfians’, an early Ansax-L discussion that was itself ‘edited, documented, and stored with […] a journal’ in the form of a (print) article published in the Old English Newsletter:

I foresee the day when a topic in which many people participate and offer substance can be subsequently edited, documented, and stored with an electronic journal for larger consumption, as well as being kept on our server for reference. The last thing we want is for folks to think of every word which goes online as a potential article. But some things might grow into that, and now we have the technology to make it relatively painless.40

In actual fact, however, it has been the queries, notices, and other similar types of postings rather than the lengthy opinion pieces or collaborative discussions that have become the core genre of the modern academic list. While the main exception to this, Humanist (a mailing list for researchers in what was at the time known as ‘Humanities Computing’), continues both its journal-like paratextual apparatus and its tradition of long and thoughtful posts, a survey of recent postings suggests that the longer contributions come primarily from a small number of contributors (many of whom have been with the list since its beginning) and that the list itself has developed a ‘water-cooler’-like flavour as well. Medtext-l (a list for medievalists) had a similar period in which it was characterised by ‘long form’ posts; this period ended with the passing of its original leader.

Indeed, Conner’s sense that ‘long-form’ exchanges were required to demonstrate the list’s relevance never lined up with actual users’ interests. In her study of early mailing lists, Peek divides listserv content into four main types of messages: ‘Information Exchange’, ‘Requests for Information’, ‘Discussion’, and ‘Technical and Administrative’ posts like error messages.41 Although, as Peek notes, ‘[p]revious researchers have focussed their efforts on the discussion aspects of computer mediated communication’ (i.e. the ‘long-form’ genres), it was ‘Information Exchange’ and ‘Requests for Information’ (the ‘short-form’ genres that characterise the format today) that, as a rule, provoked the least controversy among subscribers.42 Both McCarty and Conner similarly indicate that, in practice, it was the ‘Discussion’-type posts that provoked more complaints from their membership than anything other than error messages (early mailing list software often had trouble with error and other administrative messages, including subscribers’ ‘out of office messages’ being iteratively reposted to the list).43 Indeed Ansaxnet became known for its (at the time) particularly lengthy and aggressive discussions — a development that led to the list being temporarily suspended in 1994 or 1995 in a (successful) bid to cool tempers and reset the discussion.44

Very few people would imagine today that exchanges on such lists might form the text of a scholarly article, no matter how painlessly it might be put together. The subsequent history of online academic communities confirms the degree to which the ‘water-cooler’ turned out to be a more productive metaphor than the ‘seminar’ or ‘journal’ for these early communities. Academic mailing lists have become a core part of scholarly para- and meta-communication. They are one of the main places where we hear about conferences and calls for papers, arrange conference dinners and meetings, announce publications, and develop community projects. Those who saw the mailing list as a means for adapting existing academic forms such as the journal have, since the advent of the Web, mostly migrated away from email towards web-based publication platforms like Open Journal Systems, which more closely resemble the traditional journal (an exception is LINGUIST List, which retains the trappings of a journal while continuing to use a mailing list for distribution). The lists that remained appear, for the most part, to have given up on this attempt at disruption, focussing instead on filling what turned out to be a previously unmet need for informal communication. Before the listserv, calls for papers were distributed either by advertisements in journals, posters mailed to a network of departments, or by personal (postal) correspondence among friends.45 With the advent of the listserv, academics organising colloquia or conferences, or putting together special collections or journal issues can use the new technology to reach a far wider network of potential participants in a far shorter period of time, including non-members and people outside their immediate circle of acquaintances. While this was rarely identified by the pioneers of the new technology as a potential benefit, it has turned out, in the end, to represent the real revolutionary development, creating a significant improvement in access for marginalised groups and people working outside the main research centres that in many ways represent a far greater disruption of scholarly practice than the early enthusiasts of the listserv-as-journal hoped to create.46

Just as importantly, subsequent generations of online academic communities have picked up where these early lists left off. The various online communities of disciplinary practice that were established in the first decade of the twenty-first century (e.g., Digital Medievalist, 2003; Digital Classicist, 2005; Digital Americanist, 2005) were all built around a ‘water-cooler’ style mailing list for announcements and requests for information, which was then supplemented by websites/blogs and other, non-email-based, and often offline, academic activities: an online journal (in the case of Digital Medievalist), Wikis, off-line colloquia, conference sessions, and workshops (particularly in the case of Digital Classicist).47 More recently, a third generation of online academic communities (often loosely associated with previous-generation mailing lists) has been built on commercial social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.48 These involve a similar combination of online networking with off-platform (and often offline) traditional scholarly activity.

Online Communities vs Learned Societies

These second- and especially third-generation communities display no embarrassment about their para-academic, social function. While I am aware of none that uses the metaphor of the ‘water-cooler’ to describe itself, all were more-or-less designed to foster the kind of social communication Conner discusses as his goal in the case of Ansaxnet.

In contrast to the early discussion lists, however, these communities do not, on the whole, see themselves as competing with, replacing, or reconfiguring existing scholarly practices. Harrison and Stephen, for their part, argued that online conferences such as Humanist and Ansaxnet would threaten to replace traditional scholarly societies should they not adopt the same technology and approaches as the (then) new email discussion lists.49 But while some online communities (particularly the second-generation Communities of Practice such as Digital Medievalist and Digital Classicist, all of which have elected boards) did adopt some of the trappings of the traditional scholarly society, and while some traditional scholarly societies did adopt tools such as the mailing lists used by the newer online communities, the distinction between the two types of communities has remained quite strong. Ansaxnet has not replaced the the International Society for the Study of Early Medieval England (ISSEME) as the main professional body in its discipline any more than Digital Medievalist has replaced the Medieval Academy of America.

As Kathleen Fitzpatrick notes, the traditional societies have their origins in a similar desire to create networking opportunities.50 But their subsequent development led them to assume primary responsibility for disciplinary certification and credentialing: they became the publishers of the most significant journals, ran the most important conferences, established the prizes that recognised the most important work, hosted the job fairs, and developed disciplinary policies, standards, and formats (including, for example, citation styles) that researchers use in publishing their research, or requesting tenure or promotion. The online communities, on the other hand, have generally avoided all aspects of this certification and policy work. While several organise peer-reviewed conference sessions and colloquia, and, in the case of Digital Medievalist, publish a peer reviewed journal, they have not, for the most part, established annual conferences or prizes, or otherwise engaged in disciplinary standard-setting or gatekeeping. In contrast to the traditional societies, membership in these online communities is invariably free of charge with only a few even accepting donations. Their subscribers tend to hold their online membership alongside, rather than in place of, their membership to the major societies.

In other words, instead of replacing the traditional societies, and with them their domination of the formal channels for the dissemination of scholarly communication, online communities complemented these societies by taking up the networking function they had begun to cede. From the point of view of what they have replaced — the laborious, inefficient, slow, and closed methods of in-group para-disciplinary communication that used to take place by letter, poster, and occasional conference conversations — their impact has been revolutionary. Equally remarkable, however, is the degree to which this is not what the majority of their early proponents predicted they would become. Indeed, in some cases, these proponents actively argued against the possibility that they might become ‘no more’ than the digital equivalent of a ‘water-cooler’.

Same as it Ever Was? Looking Backwards and Forwards

Technological advances in scholarly communication are almost always initially understood as representing competition, rather than an addition to previously existing techniques, technologies, or economic models.

What the history of the academic mailing list demonstrates for us — or perhaps, more precisely, what the history of disappointed expectations concerning the disruptive potential of academic mailing lists demonstrates — is that such change is far more likely to be complementary than competitive. The mailing list did not replace the academic journal or the scholarly conference, despite the predictions of its early adopters; rather, it created an entirely new, but also entirely complementary, channel for promoting participation in, and distributing information about, such traditional journals and conferences, as well as other more social aspects of academic life. Indeed, as someone who grew up in an academic family but came of academic age myself entirely within the email era, I found it difficult to imagine how the functions currently carried out by the academic listserv and similar social channels were performed before the widespread adoption of email (see above Note 44), and was surprised by the relatively chaotic and ad hoc nature of such face-to-face and postal communications.

It has been thus always, however. As Peek argues, traditional scholarly societies themselves initially developed ‘the journal’ as a way of improving the efficiency of scientific correspondence:

For an individual before the seventeenth century the only practical form of communicating over significant distances was the personal letter. In comparison, scholarly journals allowed an individual to communicate more easily and exchange ideas with groups of others.51

However, while the journal was initially developed as a way of improving the efficiency of scientific letter writing, it did not, in the end, replace such correspondence: where the letter had originally been about work-in-progress, or exchanging notes or queries as well as final results, by the end of the nineteenth century there had developed a bifurcation, where the journal article became the formal channel for distributing final results while the letter (and later the email) specialised in less-than-final material. Indeed, in this sense, a journal like Notes and Queries is an apparent exception that actually proves the rule: despite its title, it is today far more about the publication of (final) notes than (in progress) queries.

The founders of the pioneering academic email lists seem, in turn, to have understood their work as being like the initial journals, that is, an extension of the by-then traditional dissemination solution for final results into a new communication environment. But, in the same way that the journal came to answer a different problem than the scientific correspondence it was supposed to replace, so too the actual impact of the academic mailing list seems, in retrospect, to have been an answer to yet a slightly different question: how do you discover who and what you should pay attention to in an age of effortless dissemination? A filter problem, in other words, rather than a dissemination problem.52 This problem, as well as the value of online academic communities as a solution, has only grown more significant as the Web has grown and greater efforts are being made to overcome the academic version of the digital divide.53 Early accounts of the development of the academic mailing list do not always recognise their true value as simply a means of putting people in touch with each other — a value that has only risen as more and more scholarship is published through non-traditional dissemination channels.

Conclusion

The value of understanding this early history of a technology we now all take for granted is that it may provide a model for understanding some of the frustration we feel with the, at times, surprisingly slow uptake of other ‘replacement’ technologies, platforms, and models. If the example of the mailing list is anything to go by, we are far more likely to see the long-term survival of traditional means of publication (the book, the subscription journal, the conference, the scholarly society) alongside more novel alternatives (the dynamic book, the overlay journal, or the virtual society) than we are to see any large scale disruption of this space in our lifetimes.

This becomes more interesting, however, when we consider the question of apparently novel forms of dissemination that have been understood to threaten these traditional channels disruptively: the preprint server; social communities and services such as Humanities Commons, Academia.edu, or ResearchGate; data publication; or the scholar-published open access journal.

If the history of the academic listserv is anything to go by, these forms, too, will likely supplement rather than replace the formats we now think of them as competing with. Perhaps what we are seeing here in such new pre-print and offprint distribution mechanisms is the development of formal channels for the non-negotiated distribution of grey literature — methods, data, and results that were previously distributed on a personal basis via email or in person at conferences — in much the same way that conference announcements and calls for papers were before the listserv. At this point, as was true of those looking at the listserv in the early 1990s, it is too early to say precisely how scholarship will change to accommodate these new methods. But as we move downstream, we are more likely to find ourselves in a spreading delta than a churning gorge.

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‘Digital Medievalist’, Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/groups/49320313760/

Duncan, Peggy, ‘I LOVE Email Campaign Kicks Off October 1st’, Suite Minute Blog by Peggy Duncan (18 September 2010), http://suiteminute.com/tag/email-culture/

Earl, Jim, et al., ‘Bi-Coastal Beowulfians of the ’90s: A Curious ANSAXNET Conversation [Excerpted from ANSAXNET, December 1990-February 1991]’, Old English Newsletter, 24 (1990), 36–39, http://www.oenewsletter.org/OEN/archive/OEN24_1.pdf

Ensor, Pat and Thomas Wilson, ‘Public-Access Computer Systems Review: Testing the Promise’, The Journal of Electronic Publishing, 3.1 (1997), https://doi.org/10.3998/3336451.0003.106

Feamster, Nick, ‘Time Management Tactics for Academics’, How to Do Great Research (31 August 2013), https://greatresearch.org/2013/08/31/time-management-tactics-for-academics/

Fitzpatrick, Kathleen, ‘Openness, Value, and Scholarly Societies: The Modern Language Association Model’, College & Research Libraries News, 73.11 (2012), 650–53, https://crln.acrl.org/index.php/crlnews/article/view/8863, https://doi.org/10.5860/crln.73.11.8863

‘Get Rid of Unwanted Email’, SaneBox, https://www.sanebox.com/home

Google, ‘Inbox by Gmail — the Inbox That Works for You’, http://web.archive.org/web/*/https://www.google.com/inbox/

Gulley, Alison, ‘Re: [ANSAX-L] Another Question about Pre-History’ (7 April 2017) [Electronic mailing list message].

Hajjem, Chawki, Stevan Harnad, and Yves Gingras, ‘Ten-Year Cross-Disciplinary Comparison of the Growth of Open Access and How It Increases Research Citation Impact’, IEEE Data Engineering Bulletin, 28.4 (2005), 39–47, http://web.archive.org/web/20130814145943/http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/262906/1/rev1IEEE.pdf

Harley, Diane, et al., ‘The Influence of Academic Values on Scholarly Publication and Communication Practices’, The Journal of Electronic Publishing, 10.2 (2007), https://doi.org/10.3998/3336451.0010.204

Harrison, Teresa M., and Timothy Stephen, Computer Networking and Scholarly Communication in the Twenty-First-Century University (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1996).

―― ‘On-Line Disciplines: Computer-Mediated Scholarship in the Humanities and Social Sciences’, Computers and the Humanities, 26.3 (1992), 181–93, https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00058616

‘History of LISTSERV’, L-Soft, http://www.lsoft.com/corporate/history-listserv.asp

‘History of Search Engines — Chronological List of Internet Search Engines’, WordStream, http://www.wordstream.com/articles/internet-search-engines-history

Hyman, Avi, ‘Twenty Years of ListServ as an Academic Tool’, The Internet and Higher Education, 6.1 (2003), 17–24, https://doi.org/10.1016/S1096-7516(02)00159-8

‘Initiatives’, centerNet, http://dhcenternet.org/initiatives

Laakso, Mikael, and Bo-Christer Björk, ‘Anatomy of Open Access Publishing: A Study of Longitudinal Development and Internal Structure’, BMC Medicine, 10.1 (2012), 124, https://doi.org/10.1186/1741-7015-10-124

Mangiafico, Paolo, ‘Should You #DeleteAcademiaEdu? On the Role of Commercial Services in Scholarly Communication’, LSE Impact of Social Sciences (1 February 2016), http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2016/02/01/should-you-deleteacademiaedu/

Marcus, Emilie, ‘Let’s Talk about Preprint Servers’, Crosstalk (3 June 2016), http://crosstalk.cell.com/blog/lets-talk-about-preprint-servers

McCarty, Willard, ‘HUMANIST: Lessons from a Global Electronic Seminar’, Computers and the Humanities, 26.3 (1992), 205–22, https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00058618

Modern Language Association of America, ‘Guidelines for Evaluating Work in Digital Humanities and Digital Media’, Modern Language Association (2012), https://www.mla.org/About-Us/Governance/Committees/Committee-Listings/Professional-Issues/Committee-on-Information-Technology/Guidelines-for-Evaluating-Work-in-Digital-Humanities-and-Digital-Media

Moore, Samuel, et al., ‘“Excellence R Us”: University Research and the Fetishisation of Excellence’, Palgrave Communications, 3 (2017), https://doi.org/10.1057/palcomms.2016.105

Morrison, Heather, ‘Small Scholar-Led Scholarly Journals: Can They Survive and Thrive in an Open Access Future?’, Learned Publishing: Journal of the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers, 29.2 (2016), 83–88, https://doi.org/10.1002/leap.1015

Mudrak, Ben, ‘Scholarly Publishing: A Brief History’, AJE Expert Edge, http://web.archive.org/web/20190801184847/https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:d_rJ3pMYOyoJ:https://www.aje.com/arc/scholarly-publishing-brief-history/+&cd=4&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=ca

Nyhan, Julianne, ‘In Search of Identities in the Digital Humanities: the Early History of Humanist’, in Social Media Archaeology and Poetics, ed. by Judy Molloy (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2016), pp. 227–24, https://doi.org/10.7551/mitpress/9780262034654.003.0014

O’Donnell, Daniel Paul, ‘In a Rich Man’s World: Global DH?’, Dpod Blog (2 November 2012), http://dpod.kakelbont.ca/2012/11/02/in-a-rich-mans-world-global-dh/

O’Reilly. ‘Web 2.0 Expo NY: Clay Shirky (shirky.com) It’s Not Information Overload. It’s Filter Failure.’ Youtube, 19 September 2008, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LabqeJEOQyI

Padula, Danielle, ‘The Role of Preprints in Journal Publishing’, Scholastica (7 October 2016), https://blog.scholasticahq.com/post/role-of-preprints-in-journal-publishing/

Peek, Robin Patricia, ‘Early Use of Worldwide Electronic Mailing Lists by Social Science and Humanities Scholars in the United States’ (unpublished doctoral dissertation, Syracuse University, New York, 1997).

REF, Assessment Framework and Guidance on Submissions (Bristol: REF UK, 2011), http://www.ref.ac.uk/2014/media/ref/content/pub/assessmentframeworkandguidanceonsubmissions/GOS%20including%20addendum.pdf

Rieger, Oya Y., ‘Opening Up Institutional Repositories: Social Construction of Innovation in Scholarly Communication’, The Journal of Electronic Publishing, 11.3 (2008), https://doi.org/10.3998/3336451.0011.301

Shapiro, Norman Z., and Robert H. Anderson, Toward an Ethics and Etiquette for Electronic Mail (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 1985), http://www.rand.org/pubs/reports/R3283.html

Shema, Hadas, ‘What’s Wrong with Citation Analysis?’, Scientific American Blog Network (1 January 2013), https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/information-culture/whats-wrong-with-citation-analysis/

Song, Mike, et al., The Hamster Revolution: How to Manage Your Email Before It Manages You, 1st ed. (Oakland, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2008).

Welsch, Erwin K., ‘The Wired Historian: Internet Prospects and Problems’, The Centennial Review, 38 (1994), 479–502.

Wikipedia contributors, ‘Digital Classicist’, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 3 February 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Digital_Classicist&oldid=881628043

―― ‘Digital Medievalist’, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 29 December 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Digital_Medievalist&oldid=875874297

―― ‘Dot-Com Bubble’, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 10 June 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Dot-com_bubble&oldid=901233426

―― ‘History of Email Spam’, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 2 May 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=History_of_email_spam&oldid=895110052

―― ‘Web Search Engine’, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 9 June 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Web_search_engine&oldid=901129185


1 Tim Berners-Lee, ‘The Original Proposal of the WWW, HTMLized’ (1990), http://www.w3.org/History/1989/proposal.html. For a discussion of this conservatism, see Samuel Moore et al., ‘“Excellence R Us”: University Research and the Fetishisation of Excellence’, Palgrave Communications, 3 (2017), https://doi.org/10.1057/palcomms.2016.105

2 Mikael Laakso and Bo-Christer Björk, ‘Anatomy of Open Access Publishing: A Study of Longitudinal Development and Internal Structure’, BMC Medicine, 10.1 (2012), 124, https://doi.org/10.1186/1741-7015-10-124; Chawki Hajjem, Stevan Harnad, and Yves Gingras, ‘Ten-Year Cross-Disciplinary Comparison of the Growth of Open Access and How It Increases Research Citation Impact’, IEEE Data Engineering Bulletin, 28.4 (2005), 39–47, http://web.archive.org/web/20130814145943/http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/262906/1/rev1IEEE.pdf; Ben Mudrak, ‘Scholarly Publishing: A Brief History’, AJE Expert Edge, http://web.archive.org/web/20190801184847/https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:d_rJ3pMYOyoJ:https://www.aje.com/arc/scholarly-publishing-brief-history/+&cd=4&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=ca

3 E.g., Modern Language Association of America, ‘Guidelines for Evaluating Work in Digital Humanities and Digital Media’, Modern Language Association (2012), https://www.mla.org/About-Us/Governance/Committees/Committee-Listings/Professional-Issues/Committee-on-Information-Technology/Guidelines-for-Evaluating-Work-in-Digital-Humanities-and-Digital-Media

4 See Hadas Shema, ‘What’s Wrong with Citation Analysis?’, Scientific American Blog Network (1 January 2013), https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/information-culture/whats-wrong-with-citation-analysis/

5 Australian Research Council, ERA 2018 Submission Guidelines ([n.p.], 2017), https://web.archive.org/web/20190610203355/https://www.arc.gov.au/sites/default/files/media-assets/era_2018_submission_guidelines.pdf. The British REF2014 Framework used citation counts in only selected disciplines. See REF, Assessment Framework and Guidance on Submissions (Bristol: REF UK, 2011), http://www.ref.ac.uk/2014/media/ref/content/pub/assessmentframeworkandguidanceonsubmissions/GOS%20including%20addendum.pdf. This conservatism is true also of academics not subject to such exercises. See Diane Harley et al., ‘The Influence of Academic Values on Scholarly Publication and Communication Practices’, The Journal of Electronic Publishing, 10.2 (2007), https://doi.org/10.3998/3336451.0010.204

6 “Listserv” can refer to two different things: the generic idea of an academic mailing list (which is still often called “a listserv[er]”) or the specific software utility initially used for their creation. In this chapter, LISTSERV (all capitals) is used to refer to the original software and “listserv” (in the case required by the sentence) to the more generic idea of an academic electronic mailing list.

7 For preprints, Danielle Padula, ‘The Role of Preprints in Journal Publishing’, Scholastica (7 October 2016), https://blog.scholasticahq.com/post/role-of-preprints-in-journal-publishing/. For overlay journals, Charles Day, ‘Meet the Overlay Journal’, Physics Today (18 September 2015), https://doi.org/10.1063/PT.5.010330; Emilie Marcus, ‘Let’s Talk about Preprint Servers’, Crosstalk (3 June 2016), http://crosstalk.cell.com/blog/lets-talk-about-preprint-servers; David Crotty, ‘When Is a Preprint Server Not a Preprint Server?’, The Scholarly Kitchen (19 April 2017), https://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2017/04/19/preprint-server-not-preprint-server/. On scholar-led journals, Heather Morrison, ‘Small Scholar-Led Scholarly Journals: Can They Survive and Thrive in an Open Access Future?’, Learned Publishing: Journal of the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers, 29.2 (2016), 83–88 https://doi.org/10.1002/leap.1015; Bo-Christer Björk, Cenyu Shen and Mikael Laakso, ‘A Longitudinal Study of Independent Scholar-Published Open Access Journals’, PeerJ, 4 (2016), e1990, https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.1990. On repositories, Paolo Mangiafico, ‘Should You #DeleteAcademiaEdu? On the Role of Commercial Services in Scholarly Communication’, LSE Impact of Social Sciences (1 February 2016), http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2016/02/01/should-you-deleteacademiaedu/; Oya Y. Rieger, ‘Opening Up Institutional Repositories: Social Construction of Innovation in Scholarly Communication’, The Journal of Electronic Publishing, 11.3 (2008), https://doi.org/10.3998/3336451.0011.301

8 ‘History of LISTSERV’, L-Soft, http://www.lsoft.com/corporate/history-listserv.asp

9 For a rare opposing view see Peggy Duncan, ‘I LOVE Email Campaign Kicks Off October 1st’, Suite Minute Blog by Peggy Duncan (18 September 2010), http://suiteminute.com/tag/email-culture/

10 Nick Feamster, ‘Time Management Tactics for Academics’, How to Do Great Research (31 August 2013), https://greatresearch.org/2013/08/31/time-management-tactics-for-academics/; Mike Song et al., The Hamster Revolution: How to Manage Your Email Before It Manages You, 1st ed. (Oakland, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2008).

11 See ‘Initiatives’, centerNet, http://dhcenternet.org/initiatives

12 Google, ‘Inbox by Gmail — the Inbox That Works for You’ http://web.archive.org/web/*/https://www.google.com/inbox/; ‘Get Rid of Unwanted Email’, SaneBox, https://www.sanebox.com/home

13 E.g., ‘Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation’, Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (2013), http://crtc.gc.ca/eng/internet/anti.htm

14 See Robin Patricia Peek, ‘Early Use of Worldwide Electronic Mailing Lists by Social Science and Humanities Scholars in the United States’ (unpublished doctoral dissertation, Syracuse University, New York, 1997), pp. 13–14.

15 Wikipedia contributors, ‘History of Email Spam’, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 2 May 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=History_of_email_spam&oldid=895110052

16 Peek, ‘Early Use’, pp. 13–14.

17 See Wikipedia contributors, ‘Dot-Com Bubble’, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 10 June 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Dot-com_bubble&oldid=901233426

18 Erwin K. Welsch, ‘The Wired Historian: Internet Prospects and Problems’, The Centennial Review, 38.3 (1994), 479–502 (p. 496).

19 Teresa M. Harrison and Timothy Stephen, ‘On-Line Disciplines: Computer-Mediated Scholarship in the Humanities and Social Sciences’, Computers and the Humanities, 26.3 (1992), 181–93 (p. 190), https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00058616

20 These and similar issues are discussed throughout the otherwise broadly positive discussions in Willard McCarty, ‘HUMANIST: Lessons from a Global Electronic Seminar’, Computers and the Humanities, 26.3 (1992), 205–22, https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00058618; Patrick W. Conner, ‘Networking in the Humanities: Lessons from ANSAXNET’, Computers and the Humanities, 26.3 (1992), 195–204, https://doi.org/10.1007/bf00058617; Welsch, ‘The Wired Historian’. See also the interviews with group participants, conducted in 1992, in Peek, ‘Early Use’; for an early (1985) discussion of ‘flaming’ and other aspects of email etiquette, including appropriate behaviour for mass-distribution lists, see Norman Z. Shapiro and Robert H. Anderson, Toward an Ethics and Etiquette for Electronic Mail (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 1985), http://www.rand.org/pubs/reports/R3283.html

21 Harrison and Stephen, ‘On-Line Disciplines’, 181–82.

22 See the distinction between ‘journal’ and other types of lists in Peek, ‘Early Use’, p. 67. A similar conclusion, using the articles by McCarty and Conner discussed in this chapter, is reached in Avi Hyman, ‘Twenty Years of ListServ as an Academic Tool’, The Internet and Higher Education, 6.1 (2003), 17–24, https://doi.org/10.1016/S1096-7516(02)00159-8

23 McCarty, ‘HUMANIST: Lessons’, 207. For a discussion of the early history of Humanist, see Julianne Nyhan, ‘In Search of Identities in the Digital Humanities: The Early History of Humanist’, in Social Media Archaeology and Poetics, ed. by Judy Molloy (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2016), pp. 227–24, https://doi.org/10.7551/mitpress/9780262034654.003.0014

24 McCarty, ‘HUMANIST: Lessons’, 209.

25 Ibid., 210–11.

26 ‘About LINGUIST List’, The Linguist List, http://linguistlist.org/about.cfm

27 ‘About BMCR’, Bryn Mawr Classical Review, http://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/about.html

28 John Unsworth, personal communication, April 9, 2017.

29 Pat Ensor and Thomas Wilson, ‘Public-Access Computer Systems Review: Testing the Promise’, The Journal of Electronic Publishing, 3.1 (1997), https://doi.org/10.3998/3336451.0003.106

30 ‘History of Search Engines — Chronological List of Internet Search Engines’, WordStream, http://www.wordstream.com/articles/internet-search-engines-history; Wikipedia contributors, ‘Web Search Engine’, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 9 June 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Web_search_engine&oldid=901129185

31 Peek, ‘Early Use’, p. 67. The Text Encoding Initiative mailing lists (initially TEI-L and TEI-TECH) are not included in this discussion as their purpose was always primarily technological rather than humanistic. See Robin Cover, ‘SGML/XML Discussion Groups and Mailing Lists’, Cover Pages (OASIS, Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards, 2001), http://xml.coverpages.org/lists.html

32 Peek, ‘Early Use’, p. 20.

33 Ibid., pp. 70–71.

34 Ansax-l is one of two names for this mailing list (the other is Ansaxnet or, in the nomenclature of the time, ANSAXNET). In this paper, I use “Ansax-l” to refer to the actual mailing list (that is to say emails distributed to its subscribers) and “Ansaxnet” to refer to the concept of a mailing list for Anglo-Saxonists.

35 Conner, ‘Networking in the Humanities’, 196.

36 Conner, ‘Networking in the Humanities’, 196, 198.

37 Ibid., 198–99.

38 Ibid., 197.

39 See among many others, Hyman, ‘Twenty Years of ListServ’, 20–22; Peek, ‘Early Use’, pp. 8–9; Harrison and Stephen, ‘On-Line Disciplines’; Teresa M. Harrison and Timothy Stephen, Computer Networking and Scholarly Communication in the Twenty-First-Century University (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1996); McCarty, ‘HUMANIST: Lessons’.

40 Contribution by Patrick Conner in Jim Earl et al., ‘Bi-Coastal Beowulfians of the ’90s: A Curious ANSAXNET Conversation [Excerpted from ANSAXNET, December 1990-February 1991]’, Old English Newsletter, 24.1 (1990), 36–39 (p. 36), http://www.oenewsletter.org/OEN/archive/OEN24_1.pdf

41 Peek, ‘Early Use’, p. 92; Peek treats error messages as being distinct from the other three ‘major’ categories; her subsequent discussion, as does that of McCarty, however, demonstrates their importance.

42 Peek, ‘Early Use’, chapter 4.

43 Conner, ‘Networking in the Humanities’, 197, 199; McCarty, ‘HUMANIST: Lessons’, 210–12. In the case of Humanist, the ‘long form’ post, often a digest of multiple replies and responses, became the signature form. It remains unusual among academic mailing lists in this regard and, as noted above, these discussions are, for the most part, prompted by a relatively small group of participants, many of whom have been active in the list leadership since its inception.

44 Patrick W. Conner, personal communication, March 28, 2017.

45 See Patrick W. Conner, ‘Re: [ANSAX-L] Another Question about Pre-History’ (7 April 2017) [electronic mailing list message]; Alison Gulley, ‘Re: [ANSAX-L] Another Question about Pre-History’ (7 April 2017) [electronic mailing list message].

46 To argue that the listserv improved access for marginalised groups is not to argue that such groups have achieved equity. There is considerable evidence that people in equity seeking groups still have difficulty gaining access to conference programmes and other channels of research communication. The listserv, however, undoubtably improved the degree to which calls for papers and other opportunities were distributed to those outside the dominant social networks.

47 Wikipedia contributors, ‘Digital Medievalist’, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 29 December 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Digital_Medievalist&oldid=875874297; Wikipedia contributors, ‘Digital Classicist’, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 3 February 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Digital_Classicist&oldid=881628043; ‘About’, Digital Americanists (2010), http://digitalamericanists.unl.edu/wordpress/about/. For a contemporary discussion, see Gabriel Bodard and Daniel Paul O’Donnell, ‘We Are All Together: On Publishing a Digital Classicist Issue of the Digital Medievalist Journal’, Digital Medievalist, 4 (2008), https://doi.org/10.16995/dm.18, https://journal.digitalmedievalist.org/articles/10.16995/dm.18/

48 E.g., ‘Digital Medievalist’, Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/groups/49320313760/

49 Harrison and Stephen, ‘On-Line Disciplines’, 190. When Digital Medievalist successfully applied to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council’s ITST programme for funding in 2005, this was also the main thrust of the very supportive comments by our referees.

50 Kathleen Fitzpatrick, ‘Openness, Value, and Scholarly Societies: The Modern Language Association Model’, College & Research Libraries News, 73.11 (2012), 650–53, https://crln.acrl.org/index.php/crlnews/article/view/8863, https://doi.org/10.5860/crln.73.11.8863.

51 Peek, ‘Early Use’, p. 6.

52 See O’Reilly. ‘Web 2.0 Expo NY: Clay Shirky (shirky.com) It’s Not Information Overload. It’s Filter Failure’, Youtube, 19 September 2008, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LabqeJEOQyI

53 See, for example, Daniel Paul O’Donnell, ‘In a Rich Man’s World: Global DH?’, Dpod Blog (2 November 2012), http://dpod.kakelbont.ca/2012/11/02/in-a-rich-mans-world-global-dh/