New journal. See earlier version / journals for possible development model:
The following open letter to Latin Americanists is being / was published in Minkanews 28 March 2008:
Open letter - Happy Birthday Latin Americanists.
The time for the yearly bash for scholars of Latin America has come round (Friday 28th March, 2008 for three days). This intellectual fiesta is thinly disguised as the annual conference of the SLAS. (Society for Latin American Studies). It is part of the mammoth voluntary effort that SLAS makes to showcase the impressive output of specialists in Latin American Studies (mainly from the UK) – alongside an academic journal [BLAR – the Bulletin of Latin American Research]; a rapidly improving website; challenging annual mater-lectures; an implicit social-professional network; and supporting (through a representative) British Latin American libraries, Canning House (HLBC) and – it is hoped for the future – a new opentext collaborative journal and database called Opentext (Journal of) Latin American Studies [OLAS]. Minkanews writes this open letter (and ‘opentext stub’) to all SLAS members - including of course the Committee newly elected this weekend (congratulations) - and, for that matter, all Latin Americanists, in order to convert this hope into reality.
What is OLAS and how does it differ from BLAR . . . JLAS etc?
BLAR is a traditional printed academic journal (with sometimes non-traditional articles), restricted / protected by copyright and the electronic version is available (legally) to only a small percentage of scholars in Latin America (the few who have JSTOR / Athens type passwords). BLAR does not have a facility for online collaborative editing. BLAR is peer reviewed and ‘provides credits for university research grants’.
OLAS, Opentext Latin American Studies, is ‘evolving’ as a complementary, parallel journal / magazine / database to BLAR, JLAS etc. It is accessible to all who have internet and content is both protected and part of the intellectual commons (by having two versions). OLAS does have facilities for collaborative editing and encourages joint Latin American – European (& elsewhere) participation. Expert articles can be fed directly into, for example, Wikipedia thus improving that online encyclopaedia. OLAS uses Web 2.0 technology like Open University – DKN, YouTube, multimedia interfacing, social networking software, blogs, etc. ‘OLAS overcomes dyslexia’ (can use sound / video etc). OLAS was founded as a response to the need for ‘knowledge exchange’ following the Peruvian earthquake of August 15, 2007. Although started in the UK it is effectively international. OLAS is currently hosted at the academia.wikia domain. There is a proposal pending that a (UK) mirror site be hosted by the leading Latin Americanist institutions and that all published articles within the OLAS family (e.g. OJPS the Opentext Journal of Peruvian Studies http://academia.wikia.com/wiki/Category:Journal_of_Peruvian_Studies ) be deposited automatically with relevant national library archives (e.g. an article using Colombian data but written in the UK would be deposited with the BL and the BN of Colombia). OLAS does not have an ‘owner’, a centre or an organisation – just a potentially huge network of writers. The pages can be hosted by any computer that has the space to do so and is linked to internet.
For more information click on the web link above (the OJPS), or start writing in the new OLAS http://academia.wikia.com/wiki/Category:Opentext_Latin_American_Studies. For example if you are member of the SLAS committee why not write your thoughts on how SLAS could ‘intellectually sponsor’ OLAS (no money involved! e.g. fostering collaborative writing with colleagues in Latin America.) Fellow members can join in - collaboratively online. And the discussion could then be opened up by advertising the discussion webpage in the SLAS e-newsletter and other forums.
With best wishes for a rewarding conference!
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