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Designing Digital Infrastructure: Four Considerations for Scholarly Publishing Projects

By Ali Kenner

Cite As:
Kenner, Ali. 2014. “Designing Digital Infrastructure: Four Considerations for Scholarly Publishing Projects.” Cultural Anthropology 29, no. 2: 264–287.


As we move discussions around publishing forward and adopt open-access models, social scientists need to consider how digital infrastructure opens and closes possibilities for scholarly production and engagement. Attention to changes in publishing infrastructure—which, like most infrastructure, is often rendered invisible—is needed, not only because it allows us to make sense of socio-technical transitions at various scales and for differently invested communities, but because we need more informed participants, users who can question the system in ways that make it more robust. This essay suggests that digital infrastructure design and development should be organized around (1) platform affordances, (2) support for labor, (3) emerging circulation practices, and (4) opportunities for collaboration. By tracing the long-term socio-technical work that made it possible for Cultural Anthropology to go open access earlier this year, this essay works to make visible some behind-the-scenes details to be considered when thinking about the future of scholarly publishing.


infrastructure; digital media; labor; circulation; publishing; collaboration