Digital Publication: advantages and disadvantages

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What makes a digital publication useful?

(answer in note form)


  • cf. Perseus user figures as compared to books in a physical library
  • Scholars/students outside of major universities, especially in developing world where libraries can not afford obscure/expensive titles
  • costs per unit are lower (or free); development costs usually not higher
  • web accessible to new audiences who might never read a classics book otherwise

(Almost) unlimited size/space

  • not limited by page size and volume thickness
  • can expand abbreviations/conventions/glossary (improve accessibility to non-specialists)
  • can include multiple versions of text/image/media
    • ToCs
    • indices
    • images
    • appendices


  • images; colour photos; scalable/zoomable images
  • multimedia: audio files, video, flash, VR, etc.
  • interactive media: "game-like" walkthroughs of archaeological sites


  • internal linking: text to footnotes (and back); cross references to notes, glossary, appendices, bibliography
  • clickable 'thumbnail' images with full images in pop-up
  • cross-references to external projects
  • importing of data from external projects (dynamic, repurposing)
  • mirroring external projects

Updating/Work in progress

  • "Oh great, that means you can update every day, right?"
  • Stability issues; citable publication

Transparency / Iterative research

  • source code (cf. Open Source model of scholarship)
  • check sources
  • indices as output and research tool

Collaboration / Community building

  • digital publication can be done by people scattered all around the world
  • an "open source" digital publication (somewhat similar to Wikipedia) can attract collaborators willing to invest time and energy in making the publication better

(Notes above partly reflect Bodard 2008.)