Fracking and Digital Publishing: Publicity for The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota

One of the great things about being at a university is that you get to dabble in all sorts of things. Some days, I’m a teacher; some days I’m a researcher; some days, I get to be on committees and pretend that I’m in charge of stuff.

Every now and then I get to pretend I’m a public relations man and write copy for some semi-glossy publication published by some administrative office. It’s fun and gratifying to dash off some public relations copy from time to time. (For other attempts see here, here, here, and here)

Here’s my most recent venture into advertising for myself. It’s for The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota:

Digital publishing is like fracking. Thirty years ago the Bakken was all but abandoned by oil companies because the oil was too hard to extract from miles below the earth. The process of hydraulic fracturing changed that and released billions of barrels of oil from the earth and into the North Dakota economy.

A decade ago publishing was at a dead end. Major newspapers struggled to adapt to a world of blogs and social media. Traditional publishers hesitated to embrace to ebooks, open-access publishing, and mix-media publications. As the second decade of the 21st century dawned, however, all this began to change. The struggles of traditional presses to adapt to the digital world and the rapid development of ebook platforms and print-on-demand publishing created opportunities for a new kind of agile, dynamic, and low-cost publishing.

The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota is a foray into the wild west of of digital publishing. Founded by Bill Caraher (History), Joel Jonientz (Art and Design), and Kyle Conway (English/Communications) and housed in the Working Group in Digital and New Media Lab, The Digital Press is an laboratory press exploring ways to bring content developed both on campus and elsewhere to a global audience.

“It’s still early days,” Bill Caraher remarked about The Digital Press, “but we have the basic pieces in place and have a great group of books in production for the first entries in the catalogue. Our plan is to have these books ready for the holidays!”

The Digital Press is an extension of the mission of the Working Group in Digital and New Media which brings scholars from across campus together to explore the digital world at intersection of the arts, sciences, and humanities. The first round of book in the catalogue will feature titles dedicated to Punk Archaeology, local history, and, of course, the Bakken Oil Boom.

“A press is a basic feature of an exceptional university and The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota fulfills many of the key points articulated in the Exceptional UND vision including collaboration among faculty, experience for students, and expanding UND’s presence on a global scale.”

The Digital Press will focus on works that the small editorial staff finds interesting and exciting and wants to share with a larger audience. Plans are underway to do more than just “traditional” paper and ebooks, and to develop a presence in podcasts and other new media forms as well.

Like the Bakken, the world of digital publishing has untapped resources waiting for innovators willing to take risk. The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota is positioning itself to extract the potential from this major new field.


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