Introductory Editorial No. 16

This issue of Applied Semiotics / Sémiotique appliquée marks our tenth anniversary. Indeed, though it seems like only a year or two ago, it was ten years ago last December that we received the approval of our Chair, and the agreement of the unit’s first webmaster, Dr Ron Davis, now a very successful jazz pianist, to found the review you are now reading. This spring, in March to be exact, we will celebrate the ten-year mark since the actual publication of the first issue. Many changes in institutional publishing, librarianship, communication technologies, have swept over the academic world, and are reflected in the evolution of our journal. We began as two doctoral candidates with a vision of using the Internet, a technology whose academic future seemed blurry, to disseminate research in a field we have always wished to help develop. Given that semiotics, a discipline with no institutional home, was a transdisciplinary set of concerns uniting a geographically dispersed community, the technology almost begged to be exploited in this manner. It was readily available to almost anyone and, from our point of view, cost nothing but the time we invested in the project. We did not realize we were anticipating the principles defended by the open source movement which was about to get organized under that name after 1998 in the software world, and more recently in the academic publishing world. In hindsight, it seems that we were right to have undertaken the project, as there are now thousands of on-line scholarly publications, and since major research libraries around the world now endorse the technology with all their might. Back then, there were only a handful in the world, and we were the first to adopt the online periodical model in our field: a few individuals listed resources, while established publishers created web pages to create buzz around their print journals, including just a few documents as reference material.

Many readers who have been with us since those days will also have noticed that as web connection speeds increased, and as common practice in hypertext markup language (HTML) progressed, we have tried to keep abreast of technical developments by making small improvements to the way we present the research we publish here, on a gradual and, wherever possible, unobtrusive basis.

Most recently, however, we have taken a bolder step: we decided late in the summer of 2005 to make use of another new technology: print-on-demand digital book publishing, which has allowed us to prepare a new print edition. Volumes one and two are already available, and more are on the way this season. While our original concept of discarding the entire paradigm of paper publishing for our journal has itself now fallen by the wayside, we still maintain an essential philosophy in both the on-line and print editions. Being digital, and infinitely reproducible in principle, we also have the capacity to bring research to readers and ensure visibility for our authors in a very timely fashion – within months of receiving it – and count very little waste in terms of energy and paper – which are, after all, serious environmental considerations. Most importantly, however, is the freedom and the “democratic” quality this flexibility brings to our periodical. One need not necessarily be a venerably wealthy institution to help other scholars bring their work to a wide academic audience, or to have a say in our research community, now that anyone with an Internet connection can participate in and foment the world of peer-reviewed academic investigation.

As for the fine articles we feature here in Issue nº 16, we shall let the papers speak for themselves. As always, we have done our level best to bring you quality research and, at times, work might not otherwise have had an easy time making it “to market” with an older sort of publication predicated on tight budgetary considerations, venerable traditions, and a more exclusive means of dissemination.

Please enjoy both our on-line and print editions, and as always, feel free to comment or contribute. We have revived our “forum” in the form of a web-log or blog, and you are most welcome to read it and submit announcements to appear on it. Thank you for your continued support.

The Editors

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AS/SA Nº 16, Editorial

© 2005, 2006 Applied Semiotics / Sémiotique appliquée

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