Towards Multimodal Content Fruition in On-line Scientific Journals: The Case of DigitCult
On-line journals are becoming increasingly important and credited as scientific communication tools. The advantages of Web publishing, and in particular open-access peer-reviewed repositories, are remarkable in terms of availability, information retrieval, and potentially addressed audience. Quite surprisingly, some aspects typical of on-line publishing have never been fully explored and exploited: for example, the possibility of providing readers with multi-modal content (e.g., different file formats for text encoding, attached multimedia objects, etc.) non-traditional paths to navigate information and further investigate research themes (links to external content, video interviews with authors, multimedia insights, etc.), and the use of social networks and forums as spaces for debate among peers and with experts. DigitCult is an academic journal dealing with digital cultures, and - due to its multi-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary vocation - it has been conceived to achieve the mentioned goals. Consequently, a paradigm shift is required in the design of contents by authors, the rethinking of the editorial process, and the study of technical solutions aiming to adapt existing on-line publishing platforms to the new requirements. This paper will document the analysis, design and implementation efforts that led to the release of DigitCult: Section 1 will address the problem of technological affordances and editorial cultures, with particular reference to on-line scientific journals; Section 2 will propose a multi-layered reading environment aiming to enhance transmedia communication; finally, Section 3 will focus on the technical issues encountered to achieve this goal, discussing the limits of the OJS platform and proposing some workaround solutions.
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