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What is ReVisions?

Published onSep 16, 2016
What is ReVisions?


A Multilingual Open Access Journal on Culture in East Asia

“ReVisions” is a multilingual open access platform for a collaborative, egalitarian and transparent generation of knowledge in science. The journal pursues two intertwined goals, namely a.) to expand and enrich research about the East Asian region, and b.) to explore the possibilities of digital technologies in academia.

Based on the software pubpub, the project embraces the widely uttered proposal to “think beyond the book” and see print publications as “a form and not the form of publishing.”[1] As such, ReVisions is an attempt to respond to the widely issued criticism against “the old traditions of academic publishing [in print media, J.G.] which have led to inefficiency, corruption, and the detriment of our pursuit of science”[2]. In the field of Asia-related Cultural Studies, ReVisions will hopefully serve as a pilot project in the search for a new, more transparent, publicly accessible and egalitarian process of intellectual exchange and knowledge generation. Above all, we aim to offer a space for ongoing conversations between researchers from the various sub-fields of Area and Cultural Studies.

At the same time, the journal – maybe rather to be considered a platform or space, given the unclear status of periodicity it implies – is an experiment that plays with the potentials of digital technologies and tries to explore their boundaries. The challenge we are taking on is expressed by Suiter[2] in the following manner: “[W]e can see two highly complex systems – computer technology and the academy, one complex by nature, and one deeply complex by force of history – colliding and hybridizing. [...] We do not know what this hybridization will amount to. So all we can do is steer it by getting out there and learning more by creative experimentation.” Put differently, ReVisions pursues the aim ‘[to] create tools and efficiencies that improve the way we do things, because only by so doing can we fully understand the new world we inhabit’[2].

We aspire to create a platform, which enables the generation of knowledge as a collaborative process, overcomes language barriers and hegemonies by encouraging the production of translations, and contextualizes knowledge through links to other sources and additional information (see figure 1).

Each dimension in the illustration represents an envisioned as interconnected process (versioned contributions) for itself. An entire argument as much as a single translated phrase can contribute to enriching this network of ideas and knowledge, and thus can become subject to discussions or critique, which we identify as central momentum in the generative process of collaborative, egalitarian and transparent knowledge production.

With the help of pubpub, we start exploring this idea now. pubpubis an open source platform created by students and researchers in the Media Laboratory at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Its creators aim to aid “open, continuous publishing”[4] as well as collaborative reviewing and editing. The website allows you to publish texts at an early stage and create new and edited, versions. Readers can view all existing versions, and are thus able to retract the entire history of the text. Moreover, users can instantly comment on a document, which endorses a more interactive and transparent exchange of opinions amongst “all that are capable”[5] and thus might provide an alternative to the publishing and review process of printed journals. With pubpub, “[j]ournals become tools for curating published content, not gatekeepers of scientific progress.”[6]

Pubpub is using the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) 4.0 License, which allows licensees to “copy, distribute, display and perform the work and make derivative works and remixes based on it only if they give the author or licensor the credits (attribution) in the manner specified by these”[7]. For more information on the Terms of Service see

The first collection of the journal will document the presentations and discussions taking place during the “Cultural Typhoon Europe 2016” in Vienna, focusing on “Places and Spaces of Cultural Production in East Asia”[4]. Thereby, it aims at supporting Cultural Typhoon’s most basic goal to spawn discussions among “academics, artists and activists” in an “inter- and anti-disciplinary cooperation”[4]. Matching the Typhoon’s ambition ReVisions wants to offer an alternative space for knowledge production and exchange across boundaries.

Central to a later version of the platform is its linkage to other online resources, like open dictionaries and databases (see figure 1). A second collection on media theory will focus more explicitly on translations, serving as a basis for turning the platform into a multilingual space.

We invite you all to be part of this experiment and help us change the way in which knowledge is produced, either by commenting on our ideas or by participating in the discussion.


[1]Parry, D. Burn the Boats/Books. Hacking the Academy: New Approaches to Scholarship and Teaching from Digital Humanities. 15–18.

[2]Suiter, T. Why “Hacking”? Hacking the Academy: New Approaches to Scholarship and Teaching from Digital Humanities. 6–10.

[3]Creative Commons license.

[4]Cultural Typhoon in Europe. About.


[6]PubPub. For Journals.

[7]PubPub. For Reviewers.

[8]PubPub Terms of Sevice [sic!].

Robert Aust:

Two things I have to discuss at the end: It seems that a level of competence is still needed to start a writing process at PubPub. And second, when does a review of the own text ends? And what happens, when no-one is responding to the comments and no-one gives comments? What does that mean for the text, the experiment and the community? And knowledge-production on that plattform?

Robert Aust:

Doesn’t that argument is critical itself. Knowledge is linked and interects with power and both able/enable subject positions in the scientific area. Means that a) for example doctoral grades and other titles provide (most often) more power and a “higher” standing, and b) power means knowledge as a resource in that field, so actors with power most often have more knowledge that accumulates (academic) resources which produce more power and knowledge. What I like to say is, that the generative process is not that egal and transparent, even on that platform. My argument is that knowledge production tends to be more equal via such tools, but the “old”, the hegemonic structures and conditions remain the same.

Robert Aust:


Robert Aust:

“pubpub is”

Marie Schulz:

I find your concept of a new space for scientific discussions very interesting. But, as I'm fairly unaccostumed to the process of 'traditional' publishing, I was wondering if you could go more into detail in regards to that criticism.

Martin Roth:

Thanks for asking! Many established journals apply peer-review processes on the submissions they receive, in order to identify high quality publications and improve the articles before publication. While this process does have some advantages, but it is often intransparent and takes a long time. ReVisions is an attempt at experimenting with a different, open, discursive and more transparent model. I was about to write a longer response explaining this here until I came across [***this article by Felix Stalder***](, which makes a very good case for what we are envisioning.

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Martin Roth:

both the notion of “culture” and the reference to the “East Asian region” are ambiguous. if anything, the terms should stay here as a placeholders the content of which should not be fix.