ANTIQUITY's Experience in Adding an Electronic Element to a Printed Journal

Article excerpt

A conventional print publication, like ANTIQUITY, has a choice in an electronic era: to remain print-only, to convert wholly to electronic format, or to find some hybrid or combination in-between, ANTIQUITY has chosen to stay primarily in a print format (a conventional sewn paperback quarterly book) that is paid for by subscribers, and to develop alongside that a modest web presence that is free to anyone. Our circumstances are typical; so are both our uncertainty as to the future and the nature of our response so far. Very few publications - whether journals, magazines or newspapers - have left print to go fully electronic; many have a web presence, and those that have chosen to have none begin to appear as if they are thereby marginalizing themselves. This brief note reports why we tried, what we have done, how, and with what result.

Why a Net presence? Because the net is there, and gaining a sufficient momentum: we did not want to be left off. We were not the first, even under an Antiquity title: Peter Toohey (Founding Editor) and Ian Worthington (Editor) at the University of Tasmania began in 1993 an electronic-only journal of classics called Electronic Antiquity. (When we asked him to change his title as it was too close to ours, he reasonably enough declined.) There was, and is, no direct commercial benefit, We hope it keeps us in our readership's (and potential subscribers') eye; and that may be enough cause. ANTIQUITY is a non-profit trust, so usefulness to the archaeological community comes before profit.

What do we put on the web page? Material that will be useful there, and makes a manageable size - without substituting for the journal. So we have there an introductory page about ANTIQUITY, subscription details, notes for contributors, and so on; the main element is an issue-by-issue listing of what there is in each number. This reproduces the full contents list from the issue, plus the first page or so of four articles taken from it as 'highlights' (or 'teasers'). We work to a quarterly rhythm, putting up the new issue when it goes to press; so the web update with full details of this issue was finalized when this issue went for typesetting, about four weeks before its publication. By then, we had good but not full knowledge of what will be in the succeeding issue, so a partial list of what is anticipated in the March 1998 issue went up at the same time. As a reference, we consolidated the three printed indexes to the journal (each covering a span of years) with the annual indexes since the last time it was collected, and put that on the web page. It is the only place the full index exists; there is no printed equivalent. A new aspect began with the September 1997 issue, when we added to the web five files of supplementary material to enlarge on the printed text (already long by ANTIQUITY standards) of Mary Jackes, David Lubell & Christopher Meiklejohn's paper, 'Healthy but mortal: human biology and the first farmers of western Europe'. Since the supplementary material was to be on the web, we put up the printed text from the journal as well; so that is a first ANTIQUITY contribution that can be accessed on the web in full. And since the present Review special section is largely about the Web, we are putting it up on ANTIQUITY's home-page as well (http://intarch.ac.uk/antiquity/).

How do we do it? Colleagues at Internet Archaeology in York, thinking it would be instructive to see this kind of web venture alongside their own, kindly host our pages (which is why our URL is nearly the same as theirs). Ben Horton, freelance, designed our web pages at modest cost in HTML, the layout language the Net uses. We encounter many pages (like the Society for American Archaeology or Plenum Press) in which a fancy graphic taking seconds to load turns out just to be the name of the host in an elaborate form; so we have kept ANTIQUITY's nearly to text-only. We want pages that will load 1-2-3-THERE, not 1-2-3-4-and-carry-on-waiting. …