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March 10, 2022

Talking Tech Wish–List

With a little more time on his hands at last, the editor takes a wander through his technical and platform wish-list to assess how things have changed over the past few years.

Today I’ve been taking the time to review, reformat and refresh my technical wish-list for Exchanges. It’s been a veritable stroll down memory lane as this was originally one of the earliest documents I drew up when I first came into post. My intentions at the time were to clarify, in my own head at least, those aspects of the title where I thought it was lacking and could benefit from some upgrading. Some of the early comments to myself are perhaps a little naive, a few apposite and even fewer maybe even a smidge visionary [1].

Today, I will confess this is not a document I’ve had too much time to much work on over the past couple of years. Certainly, since early 2020 keeping all of the routine journal plates/wheels/cogs [2] etc., spinning has taken a goodly chunk of my time. Glancing at my document control notes, it seems the last time I did any updating was way back in the early summer of 2021. Now I’m blessed (huzzah – thank you lovely IAS!) with a little more time to devote to the journal, it seems only right and fitting that I return to a guiding document too long neglected.

Reading through it, through and completely, for the first time in years, numerous elements of I was once keen to implement on the journal have changed in status when viewed through the lens of today. In fact, I can reclassify them in one of three different ways. Firstly, for a lucky few they’ve actually been implemented, sometimes as the result of a platform update or a policy change, and occasionally through direct action by myself or the lovely technical team. These are easily most gratifying to spot, as it demonstrates how Exchanges today, is no longer the Exchanges I took on back in 2018.

Secondly there are those, after taking account of the journals evolving policy and practice direction, or indeed developments in the wider scholarly publishing world, are no longer relevant. Indeed, it is possible to observe a divergence from what I thought would be crucial back then, to today when they are no longer of great import or relevance. In some cases, it isn’t that they’re no longer of any value, but in contrast to other, more salient and pressing priorities, they simply aren’t worth devoting any time towards. After all, all those various spinning objects haven’t entirely retreated into the distance thanks to my longer hours! And so, with no guilt, they can be moved to the deprioritised pile.

The third category though, these are those developmental and aspirational goals I had for the journal which still continue to burn brightly in my mind. True, a fair number of these pending developments will be subject to a long conversation with our platform hosts at Warwick in order to achieve. Certainly, with the way our host and platform are configured there aren’t simple things which I could move forward on alone. For example they may have implications for the other titles hosted on Warwick University Press Journals, so can’t be adopted in isolation, no matter how much Exchanges might desire them [3]. A few more though, these are wish-list items which require action beyond the confines of Warwick alone.

These are those aspects which require pressure being brought to bear on external actors. Again, we are but one small open-access journal in a sea of hundreds of thousands, which means it would be unlikely I’d be able to make much headway on achieving these goals alone. I had hoped the local journals family would be a good source of collective agency, but in the last year with various staffing moves and changes the coherency of this group has rather evaporated. Just as it was finally getting up steam too - if mixing steam with evaporation isn’t too strained a metaphor to adopt here!

Then we come to the last few items, and this is where I can feel myself getting a little more excited. Why? Well, because these are things I can, resplendent in my additional weekly hours, begin to make some degree of ingress on. Tease that I am [4], I’m won’t share details of these our potentially achievable aspirations, but I can reveal one of them concerns our journal audience’s interests. For now, I’ll say no more, but would strongly suggest you keep an eye on the editorial coming out in the next issue of Exchanges for a few minor revelations in this respect.

I am pleased, in closing though, to note that while there is but a single, minor, niggle unresolved but scheduled for swift action over the coming weeks by our tech team. The rest of the platform issues we’ve experienced over the years – all thankfully relegated to the ‘completed’ column. That, in the very least, is bringing me some measure of satisfaction in reading through my wish list today. Not to mention, reminding me of how grateful I am to our tech team for their ongoing work behind the scenes.

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[1] Scarily so – I would have to do a lot of policy and process work to make them work, even if the platform supported them!

[2] Insert your preferred circular linguistic contrivance here

[3] Mutter, mutter, commericial indexes, mutter

[4] You’d probably be horrified by how ungrammatical some of these notes were if I did.


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