Internet Archaeol. 15. Holtorf. Summary

The future of electronic scholarship

Cornelius Holtorf

Riksantikvarieämbetet (Swedish National Heritage Board), Kunskapsavdelningen, Box 5405, 114 84 Stockholm, Sweden.

Cite this as: Holtorf, C. 2004 The future of electronic scholarship, Internet Archaeology 15.


This paper about the future of electronic scholarship takes the form of a commentary about my experiences with publishing an electronic monograph. An earlier version of that work was originally submitted to the University of Wales as a hypermedia Doctoral dissertation in archaeology. I will discuss to what extent (if any) the electronic and multilinear format of my work proved valuable in challenging and advancing some foundations of current academic discourse. A key question is how academic credibility can be maintained, while at the same time pioneering some radical possibilities of electronic scholarship. It emerges that the criteria for this credibility are themselves at stake.

The paper is divided into three main parts. After a short introduction , I will first review three ways in which I originally thought that the hypermedia format would allow clear benefits for academic writing and discourse, and how I see them now. They refer to intertextuality, the open-ended 'living' text, and multilinearity in writing and argument. Then I will review the main problems which I originally thought might be difficult to reconcile with contemporary academic discourse, and discuss to what extent they indeed turned out to be obstacles. These include screen reading, orientation and navigation issues, and the problem of long-term preservation. Finally, I will turn to the issue of academic publishing and how electronic scholarship may be able to help it become more satisfactory by dissolving existing ties to commercial interests.

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