Journal of e-Media Studies
Reviewed February 2015
Tara Das, Government Information Librarian
The Journal of e-Media Studies is a peer-reviewed, freely available online journal aimed to promote "the academic study of electronic media, especially in light of the rise of digital media and the changes in formal and expressive capacities resulting from new configurations of electronic media forms." Through its issues, one can trace the theory of electronic media, particularly film, television and new media, as evidenced in articles such as "E-poetry: between image and performance," or "Virtual KinoEye: Kinetic Camera, Machinima, and Virtual Subjectivity in Second Life." However, some will find most impressive the fact that the journal is published by the Dartmouth College Library, evidence of the ever-increasing role of academic libraries in scholarly communication and open access.
The journal is admittedly fledging, with just three issues published to date, and overseen by an editorial board of academics specializing in new media studies. Each issue seems like an experiment in that a variety of formats and subjects are explored. For example, the second volume features three essays based on presentations at the 2006 Console-ing Passions plenary session; Console-ing Passions is an annual conference focusing on television, culture, and identity, with an emphasis on gender and sexuality. The third volume focuses on "Computational Cultures after the Cloud," with themes on exploitation of digital labor, feminism, critical race theory and social justice. Despite the changing nature of each issue, the journal's integration of perspectives and topics rooted in structural inequalities and group/individual experiences is refreshing in a journal that is not explicitly focusing on issues of diversity in experience and thought. Such unique interdisciplinarity is refreshing and it is hoped that this journal will continue to develop and published with more regularity.
The website platform for the Journal of e-Media Studies has a simple interface which focuses the user on the content. All content may be searched with an advanced search-like function featuring author, title, words in abstract, and words in document searches. One may also refine by specific sections of the publication, e.g. Essays, Conversations, Reviews, and so on. All issues are archived, within the Archives section, and may be freely downloaded. The journal is operable with Zotero—a fitting match given Zotero's open source foundation.
Despite the simplicity of the journal's interface, the articles themselves may prove difficult to read online. As eye-tracking studies have pointed out, most people rarely read word-by-word online (i.e. not from a downloaded pdf) and rely on headings, highlighted keywords, etc., for scanning cues. These factors clearly have not been brought to bear upon the layout of this journal when reading the articles directly from the website. That said, it is an open access journal, developed with presumably limited funds; perhaps the variety of features and enhancements seen in commercially produced online publications will one day reveal themselves here. In the mean time, the journal's site meets its primary goal of bringing content directly to the user.
While the articles are largely text-based, it is hoped that future issues will not only exploit media restricted largely to the online environment but will also contain more experimentation in online scholarly communication. Flow, another online journal in media studies, publishes articles that provide a better balance between strict content and interactivity. That said, Flow has been around for over a decade. But it is hoped that with time and ongoing development, this journal will be a core resource in terms of content as well as delivery. Moreover, it will affirm the critical role of the library in developing such experimental content.