As readers of my blog know, I am famous for side projects. In fact, at some point in the last decade my side projects have simply overwhelmed my not-side projects rendering them all side projects. It doesn’t matter. I love them – side or otherwise – all the same.
Punk Archaeology took an important step in the right direction last night. We have a venue and are beginning to secure some local “punk rock outfits” to provide us with music. We’ve sketched out a rough program with an acoustic punk band to open and then a panel that runs about an hour to an hour and a half. It looks like we have 5 or 6 participants in the panel, and true to punk form, we’ll ask them to keep their remarks brief to all for plenty of opportunities for audience participation.
The point of departure for the speakers remarks will be our Punk Archaeology blog, but the participants will be free to take or leave any of our observations there. We have a few technical challenges ahead of us. Our plan is to produce a small publication from the conference that’ll include some of the posts from the Punk Archaeology blog and the remarks at the panel. We hope that we can attract some “guest editors” to offer contributors some perspective and the patina of peer review.
At present, my plan is to self publish the book. Self publishing has a kind of low-fi, punk, DIY vibe that would appropriate for an evening dedicated to punk archaeology. More than that though, this book will be another step toward establishing a small press on the University of North Dakota’s campus. Over the last two years, I have experimented with print-on-demand publishing (here and here). More recently, I’ve had conversations with folks across the university to determine whether there would be any support for a small press here on campus. Distribution and marketing will be almost completely digital, low-fi, and, in many cases, ad hoc. The books will be short (embracing the spirit of punk), original, and (as much as I can be a judge) exciting.
The small press would focus on three areas. First, we’d emphasize books for local interest (for example, the Grand Forks Neighborhood History Series that I co-edit with Bret Weber) and perhaps a series of short books or essays on topics loosely associated with “alternative archaeology” (the best example of a collection like this are the offerings from the Left Coast Press). We’d also work with various faculty authors who have produced their own textbooks on campus and lend our expertise to their work. We have already identified a number of these projects that could be collected under a single imprint and made more visible. Finally, we’d work with various groups on campus (especially the Working Group in Digital and New Media) to create platforms for alternative publications based in social and new media.
While this may sounds rather ambitious – and it probably is – I think we have people who both possess basic skills to bring these kinds of modest works to publication, and we recognize the need to commit this idea to some serious study before committing any sustaining resources to this kind of project. In the meantime, however, I think I’ll probably keep churning out little books on topics that spark my imagination.