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Behind the scenes at Surveillance & Society

January 30, 2009

pkpI’ve been keeping quiet about this on the blog so far because it’s too close to me and probably of little interest to anyone who’s reading this, but what’s been occupying just about all my so-called spare time, and driving me crazy, for the last few months has been finally getting Surveillance & Society converted to a new website which runs on the really rather excellent Open Journal System, run by the Public Knowledge Project.

If it’s so excellent, why has it been driving me crazy? Well, being a piece of Open Source software, there’s a lot that is down to the user in terms of trouble-shooting and fixing unexpected problems. And unfortunately, despite being someone who often researches software, and computer systems, I am not massively geeky (ok, so my Geek Quotient is probably higher than some but that’s mostly down to teenage role-playing activities!). I originally taught myself HTML to design the original site, but using OJS has meant that I have had to develop a familiarity with CSS, XML and PHP. If I’d known how simple it was at the beginning it probably would have only taken me a few days, but I had periods of utter despair just looking at the site every so often over days and then weeks, and wondering why the <bleep> it wasn’t working… by the end I was just wondering how I could have been quite so stupid.opensource_logo

Well, there’s still lots to do but the site works. That makes me happy. And, more importantly it confirms both my and Surveillance & Society‘s commitment to open flows – Open Source, Open Access and the Creative Commons. The latest issue has even been produced entirely on a Linux-driven netbook from here in Brazil using Open Office (ok, maybe I am getting just a tiny bit geeky!). There is still a perception especially amongst those who buy into the corporate model of publishing that online journals are just pale imitations or easier to get published in, but Surveillance & Society is no weak online version of anything else, it is a proper academic journal with proper academic standards. Of course it is free to publish in and free to access. We aren’t going to go down the route of pay-to-view or pay-to-publish. Knowledge should be free. The downside is that our organisation has been literally amateurish and our ability to keep to deadlines has depended way too much upon my timetable and state of mind: the new issue was the result of another overnighter – I haven´t slept for 36 hours…

cclogocircleWhat has kept the journal just about going until this new website was developed has been time given mainly by me, but also by the other members of the Editorial Board and our Editorial Assistant, oh and also Nilz, and the techs from all-inkl.de and the OJS Support Forum who have really been very patient! It is sometimes like an extra full-time job for which I don’t get paid… hopefully now, with a site that is at least partly automated and to which many people can contribute, that will no longer be the case. Surveillance & Society will finally be able to stick to a timetable, and I will be a lot less stressed.

But to do this we need some income and the main way we get this is by membership and donations. If you are interested in surveillance studies and want to support us, you can join Surveillance Studies Network or give us whatever you want – we’re a registered charity that owns Surveillance & Society and works to develop Surveillance Studies worldwide. That, and the income from reprints of articles in books, is about the only income we have.

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