A Status Report on the JMMH
Welcome to the second issue of The Journal for MultiMedia History (JMMH). We were delighted with the enthusiastic and warm reception that greeted the publication of our first issue in November 1998. Your letters of support have made us even more convinced than we initially were that there exists a genuine thirst for multimedia historical scholarship.
Slowly but surely, the digital merging of aural, visual, and textual historical analysis is coming of age. The pathbreaking articles and reviews in the current issue reinforce the excitement we felt when we launched this journal; they fully reveal the enormous possibilities open to historians ready and able to experiment with digital multimedia scholarship. We hope they will inspire more scholars and students to courageously explore research that blends vigorous historiographical arguments with imaginative multimedia presentations.
This will take time. It would be wrong to leave our readers with the impression that multimedia scholarshipand publishingis not without obstacles. In fact, we have encountered several serious impediments in publishing the JMMHimpediments that we would like to describe and explain to our readers. Multimedia historical scholarship is in its infancy; the genre has yet to "take off." Some scholars are still wary of, and lack skill in, the techniques of digital multimedia publication. Historians concerned about professional visibility and establishing academic reputations, including graduate students preparing themselves for a competitive job market, are hesitant to wade into the rising waters of a seemingly foreboding digital ocean. We understand their concerns, and as a peer-reviewed journal we are attempting to address them. Nonetheless, technophobia, academic skepticism, and job market concerns have limited the production of multimedia scholarshipand submissions to the Journal.
There is yet another obstacle that we face. The time and effort needed to produce the JMMH are enormous; few submissions have come to us as fully formatted multimedia articles. Our small and under-funded staff and editors have contributed nearly all of the HTML coding, site and graphic design, and audio and video processing work necessary to produce the finished multimedia articles and reviews. Although we originally planned to produce and publish two issues a year, these two factorslimited submissions and an over-taxed staffhave led us to revise our publication schedule. After long deliberations, we have decided that, at this point, we can only sustain an annual edition of the Journal. We do so for the above reasons and because we want to preserve the quality and high standards we have so carefully tried to establish from the beginning; we do not want to feel pressure to accept less-than-excellent submissions simply because we need content to fill our issues. We felt it was better to put out a single annual review of multimedia scholarship than to cast too wide a net.
Our decision is not forged in steel. The flexibility of the medium we work in allows us to respond rapidly to change. As the Journal becomes more established, as multimedia historical scholarship becomes more accepted, and as we expand our operations and acquire additional financial resources, we plan on revisiting our publication schedule.
We look forward to your responses to this volume, and to receiving your submissions in the coming weeks and months. Please take a close look at the main features and reviews and consider whether you might have something of interest to our readers. We have contributions in this volume from many outstanding scholars in the historical profession, most of whom do not consider themselves to be "multimedia" historians. Nonetheless, with some editorial and technical help, they have produced wonderful pieces that make full use of the potential of the World Wide Webas well as excellent evaluations of scholarship and teaching tools presented in a variety of publication mediums and formats. We encourage you, whatever your level of technological sophistication, to think about experimenting with new ways of expressing and communicating your ideas and visions. Just in case you need a bit more inspiration, we are proud to announce that one of the feature articles in this issue, the aural essay "I Can Almost See the Lights of Home," was just awarded the Oral History Association's 1999 Nonprint Media Award for outstanding use of oral history. Congratulations to Charles Hardy III and Alessandro Portelli!
Gerald Zahavi, Julian Zelizer, and Susan McCormick
~ End ~ From the Editors: A Status Report on the JMMH
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From the Editors: A Status Report on the JMMH