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• CommentRowNumber101.
• CommentAuthorTom Leinster
• CommentTimeJan 4th 2011
• (edited Jan 4th 2011)
@81 David: Thanks!

@83 Zoran: You suggest having some mathematical society or sizeable category group "backing it up" (do you mean formally named as publisher?) I don't think that would be a bad thing. But there's a tension here between on the one hand, getting it done quickly and without too much administrative effort, and on the other, aiming high.

You have infinitely more experience than me on the nLab. But my outsider's impression is that the usual (and successful) ethos here is to start small and scale up as and when necessary. That way, things do actually happen, rather than grand plans being made and then collapsing under their own weight.

@85 Urs: Naming Andrew as publisher makes sense, I agree. The only problem is this: although ISSN is an international organization, when you apply for one, you do it via a national centre. If Andrew's to be the publisher, the application has to go through the Norwegian centre. The Norwegian application form and instructions are, naturally, in Norwegian. That should be doable; it just makes it a little bit harder and means I'd need to call in some help.

Edit: It turns out I'm making a fuss about nothing. Google translate indicates that the Norwegian form is just as simple as the British one. So that's no problem.

Andrew, David, any thoughts?
• CommentRowNumber102.
• CommentAuthorDavid_Corfield
• CommentTimeJan 4th 2011

Let Andrew be named as publisher then.

• CommentRowNumber103.
• CommentAuthorUrs
• CommentTimeJan 4th 2011
• (edited Jan 4th 2011)

Tom writes:

But my outsider’s impression is that the usual (and successful) ethos here is to start small and scale up as and when necessary. That way, things do actually happen, rather than grand plans being made and then collapsing under their own weight.

That’s also my attitude. Better start doing something and fine-tune it “on the fly”.

I am in favour of naming Andrew as a publisher simply because he is the closest to de facto being the publisher. If we are a little lucky and the project takes off and picks up momentum, his home institution might well get interested in lending its name to the project, eventually. Didn’t something similar happen for the Cornell arXiv?

The only problem with Andrew at the moment seems to be that he is not available but on vacation or something. But, Tom, you should maybe try to email him.

• CommentRowNumber104.
• CommentAuthorUrs
• CommentTimeJan 4th 2011
• (edited Jan 4th 2011)

André Joyal writes by private email:

I like the idea!

I will write you back in a few days.

• CommentRowNumber105.
• CommentAuthorUrs
• CommentTimeJan 4th 2011

So it looks like we have three highly esteemed people from outside the nForum community who indicate that they would be willing to serve as editors (André Joyal ,Jim Stasheff, Gabriele Vezzosi).

How many editors should we try to name? Five?

Domenico has been suggesting Jonathan Pridham by private email. I don’t know Pridham personally, but Domenico seems to. Iknow that his area of expertise (higher geometry) would suit the $n$Als very well.

Of course we also still have highly esteemed candidates from within the nForum community, such as Tim Porter. I had had worries that if the editorial board is entirely dominated by names out of the inside circle it would look bad, but having one out of five can’t be a problem.

That would give a count of five, in total. Please let me know your comments or further suggestions of people who we could approach.

• CommentRowNumber106.
• CommentAuthorAndrew Stacey
• CommentTimeJan 4th 2011

Urs, did you completely miss my post at #67? That might explain why there was no reaction to it!

I realise that there’s a feeling that we want to strike while the iron is hot, but I feel that there’s a lot more to starting a journal than just declaring a publisher and announcing to the world “Here beginneth the nth lesson.”. In particular, are there any legal issues involved with becoming a publisher or starting a journal? What if we mistakenly publish something that we had no right to publish? I did a bit of searching on the internet last night about this, and although it has all the solid foundation and reliability of an average google search, it does seem that there are issues of liability involved. If the nGroup becomes a formal thing then that provides a measure of protection for its members. At the moment, with just the nLab and nForum, I’d say our “exposure” is small enough that the hassle of setting up a separate body outweighs the benefits that would accrue, but if we’re talking about setting up an official journal, then I start getting nervous.

Maybe Tim can comment here from experience.

• CommentRowNumber107.
• CommentAuthorUrs
• CommentTimeJan 4th 2011

Urs, did you completely miss my post at #67? That might explain why there was no reaction to it!

Weird. Yes, I did miss it. I do remember the comment immediately before it, but had never seen yours. Strange. I imagine possibly you posted it while I was editing my reply that follows.

you suggest that we allow and encourage third-party submissions and have the $n$Als be a place to indicate work that should be noted. Good, there is a paragraph along these lines at Proceedings preparation (nlabmeta).

but if we’re talking about setting up an official journal, then I start getting nervous.

The people we have now on the tentative editorial board have experience with setting up more than one journal. Tim Porter mentioned that he just recently set up one. I am confident that they can handle these things.

Let’s address problems step-by-step. Currently we are still in the phase of getting the right people in the boat. Once they are in, we think about how to get the boat out of the harbour. While doing that, we can fight out where to steer it next.

• CommentRowNumber108.
• CommentAuthorAndrew Stacey
• CommentTimeJan 4th 2011

The people we have now on the tentative editorial board have experience with setting up more than one journal.

Agreed, and I’d like to hear from one of them about the legal and formal aspects before we go ahead with anything official - such as declaring one of us as a publisher. It’s simply that I have no experience whatsoever in these matters, and I know that some people get paid vast amounts to do the legal and formal niceties, so I worry that if we try to do it ourselves, we may leave ourselves vulnerable through ignorance.

• CommentRowNumber109.
• CommentAuthordomenico_fiorenza
• CommentTimeJan 4th 2011
• (edited Jan 4th 2011)

Good! so it seems we have a good kernel editorial board: Joyal, Porter, Stasheff, Vezzosi. At least at the beginning we will not have many submissions, and 4 editos will be able to conveniently manage them all. Yet, the editorial board is not only the way the journal handles submissions, but also the way the journal presents itself to the community. And I think having at least 6 or 7 people in the editorial board will commicate better how the project is solid. My ideal number would be around 10, but I guess 6-7 is pretty good to start with; we can always add new editors as the project lifts up.

Who could we contact?

I could write to Jonathan Pridham. Another name that immediately comes to my mind in Bertrand Toen.

Next I have this suggestions by Gabriele Vezzosi by private email:

What about Ieke Moerdijk, Jacob Lurie, Dmitry Kaledin, Bernhatd Keller?

and I would add to my dream editorial board

Do you agree with any of these names? do you think we have realistic possibilities to involve any of them?

1. so I worry that if we try to do it ourselves, we may leave ourselves vulnerable through ignorance.

this is a very good point. maybe here is where Zoran’s suggestion may come in: we have the capacity of building up a good team and set up the mathematical part of the question. then, as the journal is ready to start apart from legal issues, we could try to “sell the package” to a math society or a math department already involved in publishing. in any case, I’d rely on Tim’s experience for this.

• CommentRowNumber111.
• CommentAuthorUrs
• CommentTimeJan 4th 2011
• (edited Jan 4th 2011)

Concerning list of names of editors: the names you list, Domenico, all sound very good. It would be a big thing to have any one of them on the board.

I believe so far the people we did contact were singled out among all possible high-rank experts as having some expected inclination towards the project. Three editors is not enough for a journal. But maybe it should be enough for handling a handful of test-case articles. What do you think? I imagine we should try to start channeling one submission through “the system” as soon as possible, so that we get a chance to fiddle with it all, get ourselves a better idea of how the thing will look in practice, and then finally be able to approach people with a little more in hand then just the words at Proceedings preparation (nlabmeta).

So I imagine we have at least one published article in the system, better two, so that people can go to the pages, click around, see what it will be like. I think people who have had some experience with the nLab can imagine what it should be like, but I am worried that others may have too fuzzy an idea of what we are trying to get at here.

So concrtetely I suggest the following: Tom should officially start the submission procedure for his article right now. (According to the existing insstructions this mean: put it on the nLab (maybe with the help from an $n$-Lab assistant) and then contact an editor about it). Then we need to find a referee and make him write a report. That will take a while anyway. if the report is positive, then we need some time to fine-tune the formatting of the result, play with floating TOCs etc and see what it means in technical detail to have a published article on the $n$Als.

And maybe somebody else feels like submitting some small result currently sitting already on the $n$Lab in a similar fashion, so that we have an example of that kind of thing, too.

Then with these two or three first examples available, we can go around and show this to other potential editors and ask them if they would like to join the project.

What do you think?

• CommentRowNumber112.
• CommentAuthorTim_Porter
• CommentTimeJan 4th 2011

Please do not ’rely’ on my supposed ’expertise’! My role in the J K-theory is as an editor, but there we had the excellent advice of Cambridge U.P. and it was a fairly standard type of publication. Another point is that Tony Bak had run K-theory before and Tony’s wife is a lawyer so …. . The set up was very firmly guided.

For the nitty-gritty I would suggest that the board of editors consist of a management committee (say three people) who could handle procedural issues fairly quickly, plus a group of others who act really only at the academic research standards level. I do think we need a contact in somewhere like the EMS, (and I have no contact with them), that we need to discuss quite a few points with someone like Bob Rosebrugh who has managed the TAC ship very well. (I would not want to step on his toes as he has done such a lot of work for TAC and for the Cat Theory bull board. We need to be clear what a new journal is to do differently and that needs a very clear statement.)

I have other concerns but they can wait until replies to other points in the discussion emerge.

• CommentRowNumber113.
• CommentAuthorTom Leinster
• CommentTimeJan 4th 2011
Re legal issues: it can't harm to be a little bit careful, but I'd like to repeat Urs's point from the Café: peer review is nothing more than an expert indicating their approval. In a sense, that is the only thing being added here.

Re my own submission (Urs 111): I'd like to oblige by submitting immediately, but I'm not quite ready. I'm still working my way through the comments at the n-Café, I've just advertised it to the categories list (which might produce further comments), and Alex Simpson has pointed out by email a mistake that isn't totally trivial to fix. So I need perhaps a week.

Urs, you extremely kindly offered to convert it into Lab format. If you'd prefer to get started right now, that's fine: I can make the changes to the Lab version after you've converted it. The Latex source is on the arXiv, or I can email it to you.
• CommentRowNumber114.
• CommentAuthorUrs
• CommentTimeJan 4th 2011
• (edited Jan 4th 2011)

Urs, you extremely kindly offered to convert it into Lab format. If you’d prefer to get started right now, t

Okay. Good. I should then start doing this. Trouble is that I am already working on too many tasks at once, that I will not be able to proceed very quickly. But maybe i can set up something with title, abstract and intro tonight, to set the scene and maybe encourage others (you?) to help with porting the rest of the code.

• CommentRowNumber115.
• CommentAuthorUrs
• CommentTimeJan 4th 2011

maybe encourage others (you?) to help with porting the rest of the code.

We should maybe advertize this on the blog. There might be grad students or similar following the discussion who might want to help out with porting the LaTeX to the wiki, maybe in the process profiting themselves from going thoroughly through that introduction to topos theory. What do you think?

• CommentRowNumber116.
• CommentAuthorUrs
• CommentTimeJan 4th 2011

I have created a skeleton for Leinster2010.

I can’t continue working on this right now. Anyone who feels like adding a bit more should feel free.

• CommentRowNumber117.
• CommentAuthorAndrew Stacey
• CommentTimeJan 4th 2011

Not sure of the best way to go about converting a LaTeX document to wiki format. I just tried replacing a load of macros and copied it across (I pasted it below what you’d already done) which turned out horrendous. There should be a way to automate this conversion a little (I know it can never be done perfectly).

2. @ 111

I think people who have had some experience with the nLab can imagine what it should be like, but I am worried that others may have too fuzzy an idea of what we are trying to get at here.

That’s right. Having one or two published articles to show to potential editors how the thing works would be much better than trying to have them imagine what we are after. On the other hand I read Tom’s paper will still require some work before being submitted so in the meanwhile we could try to extend the editorial board to 6 or 7 members.

I know from Gabriele Vezzosi that Bertrand Toen is extremely busy at the moment, so it would be better to wait for a better period to try to involve him.

I could write to Jonathan Pridham to see if he could be potentially interested in the idea.

The other two names in my list that could be potentially interested and could have a quite clear idea of what we are after are David Ben-Zvi (who is familiar with the nCafe’ and quite present on MO) and Kevin Costello (who is using a wiki to write his last work, and also is used to posting on MO). Unfortunately, I do not know David personally, and have only once met Kevin in a conference, so I guess I’m not the most indicated one to contact them. But I can do if no one feels to be more in confidence than me with them.

• CommentRowNumber119.
• CommentAuthorUrs
• CommentTimeJan 4th 2011

Domenico,

I know them, I can contact them.

• CommentRowNumber120.
• CommentAuthorTom Leinster
• CommentTimeJan 4th 2011
Thanks, Urs and Andrew. I'll have a bash at that page some time. I'd probably like to sort out the issues of substance before the technical issues, though.
• CommentRowNumber121.
• CommentAuthorTom Leinster
• CommentTimeJan 4th 2011
• (edited Jan 4th 2011)
May I suggest Carlos Simpson as an editor? I know he has (or had) interests in radically different journal models. The only possible downside is that if he, Toen and Vezzosi are all on the board, it might be seen to tilt too heavily in one direction.
• CommentRowNumber122.
• CommentAuthorzskoda
• CommentTimeJan 4th 2011

121 Indeed, Carlos Simpson is one of the people with very broad intellectual culture about mathematics, physics, computing and logics. But why don’t you try to involve Denis-Charles Cisinski ? And possibly Costello for connections to physics…

• CommentRowNumber123.
• CommentAuthorUrs
• CommentTimeJan 4th 2011
• (edited Jan 4th 2011)

The only one I can think of is you want to retain some copyright but that is against your spirit.

You might check with others who run strictly on line journals cf. the online topology journal or ask Mark Steinberger

• CommentRowNumber124.
• CommentAuthorUrs
• CommentTimeJan 4th 2011
• (edited Jan 4th 2011)

concerning Carlos Simpson: I think it would be magnificent to have him on the board. Does anyone here have closer contact to him?

(Personally I would even enjoy the tendency implied by having all three of Simpson, Toën and Vezzosi, but we should talk about that.)

• CommentRowNumber125.
• CommentAuthorzskoda
• CommentTimeJan 4th 2011

I think one should allow articles in other major languages, like French or Russian with substantial extended abstract in English.

• CommentRowNumber126.
• CommentAuthorTom Leinster
• CommentTimeJan 4th 2011
I'm in touch with Carlos about something else at the moment and know him moderately well. I can ask him if you like. If so, I'd appreciate it if you could forward me an email you've sent one of the others.

(When I wrote my last message, I hadn't noticed Domenico's point that Toën is very busy and we shouldn't ask him now.)
• CommentRowNumber127.
• CommentAuthorTom Leinster
• CommentTimeJan 4th 2011
Re Urs 123, and Jim S's comments on copyright: I'm pretty sure it's not necessary to ask for copyright transfer. It's enough to get permission to publish the material. See e.g. Documenta Mathematica's form. Authors who publish with Documenta keep the copyright. It's not the only journal that does that.
• CommentRowNumber128.
• CommentAuthorzskoda
• CommentTimeJan 4th 2011

Tom 127: Right, one should show generous futuristic habits here.

I may try to contact Dmitry Kaledin. He is one of very few people in the world who knows very well both the derived geometry of French school (much of his recent work has close interaction with Toen’s), but also of Kontevich’s school of A-infinity geometry where he proved some major results like a version of noncommutative Hodge to de Rham. He was also working on versions of derivators, algebraic K-theory, cyclic homology etc. and could possibly encourage some of the Russian derived algebraic geometry school to contribute. I am not sure if he will accept the involvement, but I can try if people are interested. He is involved in many educational and editorial efforts in Russia.

3. Dmitry Kaledin is also in Gabriele Vezzosi’s list of suggested editors I’m reporting above; trying to involve him is surely a good idea. As is a good idea to try to involve Carlos Simpson. So, Tom and Zoran, we are in your hands :)

On my side I’ve contacted Jonathan Pridham, and waiting for his reply.

• CommentRowNumber130.
• CommentAuthorzskoda
• CommentTimeJan 4th 2011
• (edited Jan 4th 2011)

103, Urs

Didn’t something similar happen for the Cornell arXiv?

Well, I think the history was much more complicated. The xxx.lanl.gov started at Los Alamos where Ginsparg had a position. But Ginsparg for some reason did not get that good reports when considered for tenure, so he went to Cornell (I was suprised to learn about those problems as I knew his excellent review on CFT). Ginsparg had then succeeded to get the support from Cornell for arXiv as well.

• CommentRowNumber131.
• CommentAuthorzskoda
• CommentTimeJan 4th 2011

Though I can be informal, Urs, could you also sent me your description of the journal project you sent to Joyal and others, before I contact Kaledin ?

• CommentRowNumber132.
• CommentAuthorzskoda
• CommentTimeJan 4th 2011

110, Domenico

as the journal is ready to start apart from legal issues, we could try to “sell the package” to a math society or a math department already involved in publishing

Surely, but itis good to have such plans on back of our minds already now, especially becuase it is less likely we will have that broad and open discussions on this issue often later as we have now.

• CommentRowNumber133.
• CommentAuthorTom Leinster
• CommentTimeJan 4th 2011
Sorry to restart the naming debate, but... I'm not convinced by Annals of the nLab. "Annals" seems a rather grand word to me, one that might invite mockery. And once you've read the "Annals of..." part, "...the nLab" could come as an anticlimax. (Of course that might change in the future.) To my ear, it's awkward.

Having criticized, I now have a duty to suggest something better. I was happy with Proceedings of the nLab, but there were arguments against that. Communications of the nLab? Bulletin of the nLab? Journal of the nLab? Memoirs of the nLab? nLab Zeitschrift?
• CommentRowNumber134.
• CommentAuthordomenico_fiorenza
• CommentTimeJan 4th 2011
• (edited Jan 4th 2011)

I’ m gald Tom raised the naming debate again: I would have not started that again, but I must say I agree with Tom. I even checked this page to convince me that Annals was not that grand word and was of a quite common use in titles. I found out that it is actually more used than I would have thought, but still I have very strong the sensation Tom describes. My favourite name seems to remain Proceedings of the nLab, but this is probably since I had got used to it, and I see Zoran’s point against it. $n$-als (sic) is simply beatiful, but that can only be a colloquial name for the journal between us. So my vote would now go to Memoirs of the nLab.

• CommentRowNumber135.
• CommentAuthorMike Shulman
• CommentTimeJan 4th 2011

On a different topic (which Eric raised back in #23), is it really necessary that articles to appear in the whatever-its-called must be written first on the main nLab? Couldn’t they be taken from a personal web as well, or even just submitted directly by email to an editor as text files? (An author who doesn’t have or want a personal web on the nlab server could run a private installation of instiki to write and preview how their pages will look.)

• CommentRowNumber136.
• CommentAuthorUrs
• CommentTimeJan 4th 2011

is it really necessary that articles to appear in the whatever-its-called must be written first on the main nLab?

That is meant to add the additional value that the material is subject to edits from the entire community. The copy on the write-protected web is meant to be used only for checking what exactly has been peer-reviewed, while the copy on the $n$Lab is the one that is potentially more up to date, more complete, etc.

• CommentRowNumber137.
• CommentAuthorUrs
• CommentTimeJan 4th 2011

So my vote would now go to Memoirs of the nLab.

Sounds good to me. But I let you sort out this issue. I can live with all of the titles suggested so far.

• CommentRowNumber138.
• CommentAuthorEric
• CommentTimeJan 5th 2011

Just a quick a note…

I really do not like Memoirs as a title. It reminds me of Memoirs of a Geisha or something. It should reflect the memories of someone.

I’m in favor of something closer to the roots of this community. If we voted today, I would probably go nProceedings. It is serious enough sounding and still true to the roots.

• CommentRowNumber139.
• CommentAuthorAndrew Stacey
• CommentTimeJan 5th 2011

I feel that this discussion is getting very broad and so is hard to follow. I’ve created some new categories on the nForum for discussions about this journal idea and I suggest that discussion be moved there and restarted according to specific topic (for example, name, editorial board, osv)

• CommentRowNumber140.
• CommentAuthorDavidRoberts
• CommentTimeJan 5th 2011

osv?

• CommentRowNumber141.
• CommentAuthorAndrew Stacey
• CommentTimeJan 5th 2011

Yet another of my attempts to teach you all Norwegian (via the nLab principle, if I can get you lot to learn it then I will have learnt it myself without doing any work!). It stands for og så videre and means the same as “etc” (literally, “and so onward”, I guess that the German version is quite close but shan’t embarrass myself by trying to remember it).

• CommentRowNumber142.
• CommentAuthorUrs
• CommentTimeJan 5th 2011
• (edited Jan 5th 2011)

I guess that the German version is quite close

Yes: usw. short for und so weiter .

• CommentRowNumber143.
• CommentAuthorJohn Baez
• CommentTimeJan 6th 2011
• (edited Jan 6th 2011)

Toby Bartels told me about the existence of this thread. It sounds like a great project! Since I’m doing other things, I can’t help out. But maybe I can do a little good by asking a question:

What is the goal of this project?

1) If you guys can write a nice one-paragraph description of this project, it will help outsiders understand what you’re doing. That will help them get interested in it. That will help it succeed.

2) I’m actually a bit confused myself. Is this

a) a typical free online refereed journal,

b) a free online journal with a novel mechanism for refereeing,

c) a mechanism for turning the best $n$Lab entries into ’articles’ that have been officially approved, with a fixed (i.e. time-independent) content,

d) both a) and c),

e) both b) and c)

or maybe

f) something else

or

g) not sure yet?

• CommentRowNumber144.
• CommentAuthorJohn Baez
• CommentTimeJan 6th 2011
• (edited Jan 6th 2011)

Another comment: I see in the discussion a certain tendency for some people to seek ways of doing things that have already worked. I think it’s much more interesting to try new things! I always feel that way, but I especially feel that way for publishing.

I think publishing is on the brink of a phase transition where universities get tired of paying huge amounts of money for big journal bundles put out by big publishers, and a new system takes the place of the old one. We’re stuck in an old system that nobody likes except the publishers. But it’s hard to imagine that we’ll be stuck there for the rest of history.

Unfortunately, the new system is not yet known.

The only way to discover the new system is to experiment. All sorts of things are possible these days, and only a few of them have been tried so far. You’re in a great position to try something really new.

Urs’ original suggestion, in the first post in this thread, was something really new.

If you try something old, that increases your chance of getting locked into other old patterns. For example, if you “seek the sponsorship of a mathematical association”, that association will have its own way of doing things, and they’ll probably want you to do that.

But if you try something new, it may lead to further new developments. And that could be really exciting.

Even a “failure” where at least you tried something new could be a lot more useful than a “success” that follows existing patterns.

But there’s no reason to fail with so many smart people involved. Just keep adapting to changing circumstances and it’ll work out fine. Good luck!

• CommentRowNumber145.
• CommentAuthorMike Shulman
• CommentTimeJan 6th 2011

@John 144: Hear hear!

• CommentRowNumber146.
• CommentAuthorAndrew Stacey
• CommentTimeJan 6th 2011

John (143 and 144): completely agree. What do you think of my comments in #67?

• CommentRowNumber147.
• CommentAuthorUrs
• CommentTimeJan 6th 2011

What is the goal of this project?

I have expanded the section “Goals” at Proceedings preparation (nlabmeta) a bit more.

• CommentRowNumber148.
• CommentAuthorTobyBartels
• CommentTimeJan 8th 2011
• (edited Jan 8th 2011)

[Comment moved to the appropriate thread here.]

• CommentRowNumber149.
• CommentAuthorTom Leinster
• CommentTimeMar 13th 2011

Hi all. I'll be seeing Carlos Simpson in a week, so I'm interested to know: what's the state of play?

Is there any new news, or are we just waiting to get a referee's report on my submission before anything else happens? For that matter, what's the situation regarding the geometric realization article? (Last thing I knew, a report had been submitted and uploaded.)

I guess Carlos and I will chat about this, so it would be good to be on top of things.

• CommentRowNumber150.
• CommentAuthorHarry Gindi
• CommentTimeMar 14th 2011
• (edited Mar 14th 2011)

@Urs:

That is meant to add the additional value that the material is subject to edits from the entire community. The copy on the write-protected web is meant to be used only for checking what exactly has been peer-reviewed, while the copy on the Lab is the one that is potentially more up to date, more complete, etc.

I think it would be extremely prudent to allow reverse propagation as well: That is, it can be added to the main nLab after it has been peer reviewed. This gives the person submitting the article the ability to submit it in the classical way (keep it (semi)private until it’s been peer reviewed) or give them the ability to publish it as a preprint on the nLab first, then submit for peer review, then move it to the nJournal.

I also think it would be prudent to give readers the ability to “download pdf”, where these pdfs would all be formatted according to a single standard.

• CommentRowNumber151.
• CommentAuthorDavidRoberts
• CommentTimeMar 14th 2011

I also think it would be prudent to give readers the ability to “download pdf”, where these pdfs would all be formatted according to a single standard.

Yes! One could also have the links from the page still hyperlinks in the pdf, or not.

• CommentRowNumber152.
• CommentAuthorHarry Gindi
• CommentTimeMar 14th 2011

Yeah, plus it would make things look more official.

• CommentRowNumber153.
• CommentAuthorUrs
• CommentTimeMar 14th 2011
• (edited Mar 14th 2011)

so I’m interested to know: what’s the state of play?

Your article is still with the referee. A report had originally been announced for some time soon now, but I haven’t heard from the referee yet. I’ll contact him and check.

The article on geometric realization is in the second refereeing round. We have recently finished reacting to the first report and now it’s back to the referee.

Apart from this the state of the play is: lots of plans and lack of man-hours to work on them. I had gotten overwhelmed by the workload implied by the plans for the journal and had declared that I am out of that game and will instead just try to look after getting peer review for some selected $n$Lab entries every now and then. Others have suggested that the editors will take care of the work, once they are officially in place. I rather think we need people that act as staff and do secretary work. Not sure where and how to get them.

• CommentRowNumber154.
• CommentAuthorjim_stasheff
• CommentTimeMar 14th 2011

In re: the new medium will have its peculiar entries (which I called "papers" since I imagined they could be something close to a journal paper, but this was just my imagination).

With 153 entries, I'm not likely to catch up any time soon, so the following may have been said already. Hyperlinks can be helpful but sometimes the density of their occurrence is almost that of the non-linked words. i'm probably a minority
but is there a dual operation possible: incorporate directly the material that would have appeared after the hyperlink is used but instead the link would allow one who does know the stuff to jump ahead to further content?
• CommentRowNumber155.
• CommentAuthorUrs
• CommentTimeMar 14th 2011
• (edited Mar 14th 2011)

Hi Jim,

we had this discussion before, I think: the fact that approximately every single technical keyword is hyperlinked is just a convenience for those readers who happen to feel they wish more information about a given keyword. It is neither meant to imply that the reader follows every single of these links, nor that the intended text consists of inserting all the text behind every one of these links into the main text.

You should just completely ignore all these links – unless and until you find yourself wondering what is meant by some keyword.

4. Hi,

nice to hear thing are moving in the background. I’ve been quite busy lately, but still eager to work at setting up the “classical part” of the njournal. concerning hyperlinks I remain of my opinion that having all sensible words linked by invisible links is the best solution. but I’d postpone the technical discussion of this point to when we receive the referee’s reports.

• CommentRowNumber157.
• CommentAuthorTom Leinster
• CommentTimeMay 12th 2011

I've just started the process of revising my topos theory article. (Apologies to all concerned for the time this is taking. It's not for lack of enthusiasm.) Here's a thought about the mechanics of this process.

The nLab page with my article on needs to be edited. This might take a while: especially for the more substantial edits, I'll probably write something, decide it's stupid, delete it, write something else, etc. I'm not sure I want to be doing this in public, where everyone can see my mistakes and half-baked thoughts. So, one solution would be to ask for my own private web. Another would be to find a way to edit it offline. (For example, the nLab page is a copy of a Latex article, so I could edit that Latex and then, when finished, make the corresponding edits to the nLab page. It's not the most reliable or efficient process, though.) What to do?

Actually, I don't care as much as the previous paragraph suggests. Personally, I'd be OK with making the edits in public, and since I do actually want a Latex version too, I wouldn't mind the laborious solution either. But I'm sharing this thought in my capacity as guinea pig: I'm OK with it, but future authors might not be. Just something to think about.

• CommentRowNumber158.
• CommentAuthorMike Shulman
• CommentTimeMay 12th 2011

Of course, you could also just edit the nLab source offline, then when done copy your new version into the nLab. If you wanted to be able to “compile” it offline to see what it looks like, you could run a copy of instiki on your local computer. That’s not really very hard (I’ve done it), but it’s probably not the ideal “this is what everyone should do” solution either.

• CommentRowNumber159.
• CommentAuthorAndrew Stacey
• CommentTimeMay 12th 2011

A slightly less dramatic way of doing it offline is to install the conversion components of Instiki on your computer; these are a ruby script called maruku and the iTeX stuff itexToMML. Then one can do the usual edit-save-compile routine but with maruku instead of LaTeX. If you’re on a Linux machine, I can talk you through the steps needed to do that. The result would not be quite the same since it wouldn’t have the wiki-specific pieces (wiki links in particular) and the CSS would look a bit different (and Jacques has made a couple of small modifications to maruku for instiki) but it would be close enough.

An alternative would be to have a private web for this where the pages were actually deleted afterwards - by doing that we only have to have one extra web (not one for each author) but maintain future privacy. Of course, then old copies wouldn’t be saved as they would if you were doing it in public or on your own computer (which you backup regularly, I assume).

But since you want to keep the LaTeX copy up to date as well, the solution of editing the LaTeX copy seems the ideal one. Not quite as you describe, though. Don’t duplicate your edits, simply convert them. The conversion from LaTeX to Markdown+iTeX may not be perfect, but for this journal idea to work then we should have a reasonable LaTeX to Markdown+iTeX conversion system so using this article to test it would be useful. I personally prefer having just one master copy of a document and then making the derivative copies from that. In particular, the script is vastly improved since I first ran it on your original document.

So here’s my recommendation. Edit the LaTeX file, but do so knowing that it will end up on the nLab/nJournal. In other words, remember that you have even less control over what it will look like than you usually do when writing a LaTeX document.

Since you’re prepared to be a guinea pig, be one for the full process.

• CommentRowNumber160.
• CommentAuthorzskoda
• CommentTimeMay 12th 2011

I can talk you through the steps needed to do that.

Andrew, if you happen to do such an advice to Tom in written form then please record the recipe in nForum or elsewhere for others.

• CommentRowNumber161.
• CommentAuthorTom Leinster
• CommentTimeMay 13th 2011
• (edited May 13th 2011)

So here's my recommendation. Edit the LaTeX file, but do so knowing that it will end up on the nLab/nJournal. In other words, remember that you have even less control over what it will look like than you usually do when writing a LaTeX document.

Thanks for those thoughts. I'm willing to follow your recommendation. To make sure I understand correctly: I'll revise the Latex document, the previous nLab page will be thrown away, you'll run some script on my new Latex document, and this will produce a new nLab page... right? And presumably that new nLab page will have to be finished by hand, because the conversion script is not perfect?

I'm slightly surprised that this is what you recommend, because it seems to be throwing away previous work, but I'm totally willing to go along with it.

Since you're prepared to be a guinea pig, be one for the full process.

I don't understand what you mean by this, but if I follow your recommendation above, am I being fully guinea-piggish?

• CommentRowNumber162.
• CommentAuthorAndrew Stacey
• CommentTimeMay 13th 2011

I’m slightly surprised that this is what you recommend, because it seems to be throwing away previous work, but I’m totally willing to go along with it.

The key question here is: which should be considered the master document? I feel that in this scenario, the LaTeX source is the better fit for that title. Partly because if it were me, I would much rather write a proper LaTeX document and then convert it to whatever format I wanted it in. So the nLab/nJournal page should always be regarded as secondary and changes to that should be taken up in to the master document. When editing it, you should take in to account any changes to the content on the nLab page, but not changes that were purely to get it laid out correctly.

Whilst the nLab page will be overwritten, the old version will not vanish completely so it will be possible to review the older version just as if the changes had been made to the nLab page directly. What will not work quite so well is doing a “diff”, but then if you made substantial changes to the nLab version then the diff might not be so useful either so I wouldn’t regard that as a great loss.

And whilst the conversion script is not perfect, it is theoretically possible to get it pretty close!

It might be that in the LaTeX source we include a few new environments to handle the pictures a bit better - basically so that the LaTeX version produces one lot of pictures and the nLab version uses the SVGs. But that’s the sort of thing that I mean by “do so knowing that it will end up on the nLab/nJournal”.

For this nJournal thing to work, it needs to be as easy as possible for authors. For that, I judge that most authors would prefer just to work with LaTeX and not have to deal with the intricacies of getting the stuff on the web. That’s our job.

So, yes, by doing this you will be 100% guinea pig. I hereby appoint you Lord High Guinea Pig.

• CommentRowNumber163.
• CommentAuthorAndrew Stacey
• CommentTimeMay 13th 2011

Zoran (160): I’ve just done a fresh install of Linux on my laptop so will need to reinstall maruku and itex on it. I’ll write down the instructions as I do it somewhere on nlabmeta.

• CommentRowNumber164.
• CommentAuthorUrs
• CommentTimeMay 13th 2011

So the nLab/nJournal page should always be regarded as secondary and changes to that should be taken up in to the master document.

I am not sure if this is a good attitude towards a wiki journal.

• CommentRowNumber165.
• CommentAuthorAndrew Stacey
• CommentTimeMay 13th 2011

Hmm, re-reading them cold does make my remarks seem a little dogmatic.

Let’s take an analogy from the programming world. At the moment, the nLab/nJournal version is a platform-specific rebuild of Tom’s definitive source. So the hierarchy is that Tom’s LaTeX is the source and the nLab is derived from it. At the moment that it is officially published, then it becomes an official fork of Tom’s article. At that point, the two exist in parallel and there can (and should) be cross-fertilisation but neither is deemed to have parental rights over the other.

One aspect of this particular situation that is important to note is that Tom’s article was written before the nJournal even existed, let alone before he decided to submit it there. As an author, the decision on where to publish my article comes last and only then do I go through the hassle of converting my lovely document to the awful style file imposed by the journal.

So my remarks should be prefixed by some comment emphasising that they refer to this current stage of the process.

• CommentRowNumber166.
• CommentAuthorMike Shulman
• CommentTimeMay 14th 2011

I like the analogy with journal style files. Some people do sometimes write a paper using a particular journal’s style file from the beginning with the intent to submit to that journal, so if someone writes something specifically for the nJournal, then they might write it in itex/instiki from the beginning. But we should also support people submitting papers that were originally written in ordinary latex. In general, once we are at the stage of incorporating referee comments, I’d be inclined to leave it up to the author whether they want to do that directly in the converted itex, or in their latex original and reconvert. But certainly more guinea-pig-ness is needed for the latter option. (-:

• CommentRowNumber167.
• CommentAuthorEric
• CommentTimeMay 14th 2011

A quick, unsolicited thought…

If someone wants to submit a paper to a wiki journal, they should be expected to actually touch the wiki. Otherwise, they could submit to some other more traditional journal.

That may be a bit harsh, so (in addition to a wiki style file - which I think is a GREAT idea) a softer approach may be to provide wiki-friendly latex style file. The latex style file should generate a dvi file that is formatted roughly the way it will ultimately appear on the wiki.

• CommentRowNumber168.
• CommentAuthorTom Leinster
• CommentTimeOct 9th 2011

Hi guys,

I thought I'd ask a general question: where do we stand now with the journal project? As I understand it, we've been in an experimental phase. That experiment has involved things like deciding on the nature of the publication, deciding a name, deciding on a look, thinking about editors, and Andrew working on his conversion script. Should we now be aiming to move out of the experimental phase and firm things up?

I have a selfish reason for wanting to do so: for coming grant applications, I'd like to be able to cite my own article. At the moment that's difficult, because I'm not even totally sure what this publication is called.

But perhaps I can use this selfish motivation for the general good, by helping to move things forward. Are we now ready to take the decisions that will enable me to apply for an ISSN? This means, if I remember correctly: publication name, numbering system, and stable URL.

There seem to be three (potential) articles in play: Domenico's, geometric realization, and mine. Mine seems to have progressed the furthest. It's very nearly in its very final form; we got to the stage where it was just the links that needed fine-tuning. This needs some of Andrew's time, which of course should wait until he feels like doing it. But perhaps there are some other things we can get moving in the meantime: e.g. how about that ISSN, or contacting further potential editors?

• CommentRowNumber169.
• CommentAuthorUrs
• CommentTimeOct 9th 2011

An ISSN we can maybe go for right now. For further contacting editors I thought it would be good to have one or two submissions all the way through the process, so that they can see what it is all about. What is it that needs to be fine tuned about the links in your article?

• CommentRowNumber170.
• CommentAuthorTom Leinster
• CommentTimeOct 9th 2011

Re editors: I see your point, Urs.

Re links, the last things that happened were that Andrew posted the latest iteration on 23 August (link), then I posted a bunch of corrections on 9 September (link).

Re ISSN: the discussion about name and numbering went on for a while, but I left with the impression that Publications of the nLab was the most popular option. I don't think there's going to be universal agreement on a name, so perhaps the steering committee needs to simply make a decision. A numbering system is also needed. I was pushing for the system of one volume per year and one number per article, so that the third article in 2015 would be Vol 5, No 3. But again, there was disagreement over this, and it's not for me to impose my own opinion. If the steering committee tell me what to do, I'll simply fill in the ISSN form, and it'll be done.

• CommentRowNumber171.
• CommentAuthorUrs
• CommentTimeOct 9th 2011

If the steering committee tell me what to do, I’ll simply fill in the ISSN form, and it’ll be done.

Good point. I’ll try to take steps to make that happen.

Concerning links: I don’t know what Andrew’s plans are. But since you are the author of the article it would seem to me that you could just implement in the wiki page what you indicated on paper and that would be it then.

• CommentRowNumber172.
• CommentAuthorAndrew Stacey
• CommentTimeOct 10th 2011

Regarding the links, it certainly is on my list of “things to do”, but even I’d have to do it manually so anyone else could do it instead. I’ve gotten embroiled in the semester so some things have gotten pushed further down my TODO list than they ought to have done. A couple of things that were keeping me busy have just finished so I’m going back through that list and trying to clear it.

It’s also the sort of thing that can be done in small chunks as it simply involves adding and taking out a load of wiki-links according to Tom’s list.

• CommentRowNumber173.
• CommentAuthorTom Leinster
• CommentTimeOct 10th 2011

Thanks, Andrew. I didn't realize it was appropriate to do it by hand; I thought we were still in the period where I'd tell you what was wrong and you'd tune your algorithm accordingly. But that's good news, as the work doesn't all land on your desk. It's now on my to-do list too.

• CommentRowNumber174.
• CommentAuthorAndrew Stacey
• CommentTimeOct 10th 2011

Certainly the experience of this will feed back into the redesign of the script, but the number of changes that you highlighted is sufficiently small that I think that at this stage, it’s easier to just do it by hand.

There are certainly ways to improve the script based on this experience, but I’m not sure of the best way to do this so I’ll need to have a think about that and experiment, but that will take longer than simply doing the last few on your document by hand.

• CommentRowNumber175.
• CommentAuthorTom Leinster
• CommentTimeMay 15th 2012
• (edited May 15th 2012)

Hello all. I wanted to find out what, if anything, is in the pipeline for the journal: my article’s feeling lonely in there!

To paraphrase something that Urs often (rightly) says: if it’s simply the case that everyone involved has been too busy to do anything, I can completely understand. But I’d like to get a sense of whether the journal really is going to take off, or whether the initial momentum is lost and it’s never going to happen. Maybe we can discuss this openly.

To ask a concrete question: how many articles are currently in process? I remember two besides mine being mentioned publicly: one on geometric realization, and one of Domenico’s.

It would be a great shame if all the work that everyone’s put in (especially Andrew) wasn’t used. We now have a great system for turning a Latex article into a beautifully linked lab page. But quite apart from the feeling of waste, I continue to think that the journal is a great idea, and I hope this turns out to be just a period of quiet: like when the aeroplane stops and pauses on the runway, just before taking off.

What do you all think?

• CommentRowNumber176.
• CommentAuthorUrs
• CommentTimeMay 15th 2012
• (edited May 15th 2012)

Domenico’s article is still in the pipeline. The referee had some private cause for delay, but the report should now be in soon.

The entry geometric realization of simplicial topological spaces was never submitted to be $n$Journal!

Recall the history:

1. I initially said I wanted the possibility of having entries on the nLab be marked as “reviewed”. The entry on geometric realization is an example of that.

2. When I mentioned this here, people voiced the wish to go further and make a journal.

3. After I felt that the discussion about this was becoming too much for me I declared that I would not be part of the $n$Journal project, but would take care of the reviewed part of the $n$Lab.

I am indeed too busy for this, but this is not the reason that currently nothing further is happening. The reason for that is simply that I am still waiting for the next referee report (see above) and that no further submission has been made since.

1. advertize further submissions to the $n$Journal;

2. invest energy into making the $n$Journal look more like a journal. Somebody for instance might create a good home page that is not just a wiki page. Somebody might get back in contact with our list of potential editorial board members and see how to get them finally involved concretely.

5. We now have a great system for turning a Latex article into a beautifully linked lab page.

I didn’t know that such system exists. Is this tool available for creating nlab-entries, too, or just in the journal section?

• CommentRowNumber178.
• CommentAuthorAndrew Stacey
• CommentTimeMay 15th 2012

if it’s simply the case that everyone involved has been too busy to do anything

Certainly for me it’s been a bit of a “very busy” situation, but that’s been compounded by two factors: one, not really having a firm vision of the end-goal of this project and two, knowing that next year I’ll have a bit more time to concentrate on things like this.

For the first, I’m not sure we should have a particularly firm vision of what the end-goal should be, but maybe a temporary road-map for the next stage would be useful.

For the second, I’ll be on sabbatical next year so will be able to devote a little more time to sorting out things like the nJournal (and maybe getting the nLab itself on a firmer footing).

One thing that means I feel I can’t be quite as pro-active about the nJournal as I’d like is that I could well imagine submitting an article to it (maybe expository to begin with) except that that would smack too much of “self publishing”!

Is this tool available for creating nlab-entries, too, or just in the journal section?

It’s a general purpose tool. It is highly experimental, but I use it for creating any pages of decent length. It works best when the document has been written using it (rather than a document written using the full power of LaTeX and then converted), though it didn’t do too bad a job on Tom’s article. The current public version is at http://www.math.ntnu.no/~stacey/HowDidIDoThat/LaTeX/internet.html. Feedback and ideas are always welcome.

• CommentRowNumber179.
• CommentAuthorjim_stasheff
• CommentTimeMay 15th 2012
@175 Tom:Hello all. I wanted to find out what, if anything, is in the pipeline for the journal: my article's feeling lonely in there!

To paraphrase something that Urs often (rightly) says: if it's simply the case that everyone involved has been too busy to do anything, I can completely understand. But I'd like to get a sense of whether the journal really is going to take off

I never knew or have forgotten that the nJournal was up and running
Can someone direct me the instruction page for submitting something already in Latex?
• CommentRowNumber180.
• CommentAuthorUrs
• CommentTimeMay 15th 2012
• (edited May 15th 2012)

Hi Jim,

right, we never even announced this yet. The plan was that we wait for one more submission to go through, in order to have more to show to people. It is unfortunate that the refereeing of this submission is taking so long.

Anyway, the home page of the nJournal – actually it’s called the Publications of the $n$Lab with instructions and all is:

http://ncatlab.org/publications/published/HomePage

As you can see there, the idea is that for the moment, with no official editorial board in place yet, you submit by posting a message here in the nForum “to the attention of the steering committee”.

That would be nice if you could arrange a further submission at this early stage! (Despite it taking so long, it is still the an early stage!)

• CommentRowNumber181.
• CommentAuthorMike Shulman
• CommentTimeMay 26th 2012

I could well imagine submitting an article to it (maybe expository to begin with) except that that would smack too much of “self publishing”!

I feel like this is the problem right now: we wanted a few publications before publicizing the nJournal widely, but that means we’re the only ones who know about it so far, and none of us feel comfortable submitting anything to it ourselves! It’s kind of a chicken-and-egg corner we’ve painted ourselves into.

• CommentRowNumber182.
• CommentAuthorTim_Porter
• CommentTimeMay 26th 2012

Announce and explain the project on the cat theory list (I think it was mentioned) and ask for submissions and help.

6. I feel like this is the problem right now: we wanted a few publications before publicizing the nJournal widely, but that means we’re the only ones who know about it so far, and none of us feel comfortable submitting anything to it ourselves! It’s kind of a chicken-and-egg corner we’ve painted ourselves into.

Indeed! for instance I’m planning to convert to latex and expand a bit my ETH talk notes (of which you can find a sketchy handwritten version here), and I guess that would suit nJournal, but I’d be quite hesitant to submit, to avoid the impression we could give that nJournal is internal stuff or even worse that it is a fake journal we use to say our own stuff is published!

Announce and explain the project on the cat theory list (I think it was mentioned) and ask for submissions and help.

This could be a good idea. I fear we are still too much in an embryonal stage for thsi announcement to be effective, but still it could help us in escaping from the chicken-and-egg corner.

• CommentRowNumber184.
• CommentAuthorTom Leinster
• CommentTimeMay 26th 2012

Belated apologies to Urs (176) for not actually realizing his point 3. (And sorry, Urs, if I’ve involved you more in this than you wanted to be.) My only excuse is that the discussions that took place were long and winding.

I agree that there’s a chicken and egg situation. I see two options. Either we declare that we’re ready now and throw the doors wide open, or we unashamedly take contributions from dedicated nlabbers for a little while (and then proceed to the other option).

My impression is that there are other respectable journals that have started out as being for a rather small circle of people, but widened dramatically. Cahiers is an example, I think (though I don’t know its history well). As long as there’s genuine peer review, there’s no shame in it.

I don’t know whether we’re suffering from a lack of leadership: whether we need a single person who will coordinate everything. That doesn’t sound very nLabby, though.

• CommentRowNumber185.
• CommentAuthorUrs
• CommentTimeMay 26th 2012
• (edited May 26th 2012)

Mike: currently the bottleneck are referees. If we had Domenico’s submission and the simplicial realization entry already fully refereed, we’d also already have a collection of examples to announce, as was our plan.

Tom: no problem, I just mentioned this to recall why “$n$Lab-reviewed” is different from “$n$Publications”.

everybody: if you want to help the $n$Publications get off the ground: volunteer as a potential referee (if we make the reports public anyway, it should not be a problem if the referees are from among us )! If I know you are a potential referee for a certain topic, it should not be too hard to find a submission for that topic.

• CommentRowNumber186.
• CommentAuthordomenico_fiorenza
• CommentTimeMay 26th 2012
• (edited May 26th 2012)

volunteer as a potential referee

here I am :-)

• CommentRowNumber187.
• CommentAuthorMike Shulman
• CommentTimeMay 26th 2012

I’d be very happy to referee stuff for the nJournal.

• CommentRowNumber188.
• CommentAuthorUrs
• CommentTimeMay 26th 2012
• (edited May 26th 2012)

Domenico, Mike,

okay, good!

I’ll be in Vienna at the ESI next week, on an event where I will run into plenty of people who may have something to publish in Domenico’s area of expertise. Three weeks later I should be in Ljubljana at another workshop with plenty of people who may have something to publish in Mike’s area of expertise. I’ll ask around and see if some of them feel like submitting to the $n$Journal.

(Myself, I should not volunteer to referee for the $n$Journal at the moment. I have more than enough reports waiting to be done already. Unfortunately.)

• CommentRowNumber189.
• CommentAuthorMike Shulman
• CommentTimeMay 27th 2012

I look forward to hearing about the workshop in Ljubljana; I’m sorry that I can’t make it myself.

• CommentRowNumber190.
• CommentAuthorzskoda
• CommentTimeMay 27th 2012

Oh, Urs, so you are coming to Ljubljana ? I am there on 18 and 19th, till later afternoon on 19th. I know you are related to event on 20th, but let me know if you are there already on 19th.

• CommentRowNumber191.
• CommentAuthorUrs
• CommentTimeMay 27th 2012

I “should be” there. Still haven’t booked anything and it may not happen after all. If I don’t make it, you can advertize to people the possibility to publish in the $n$Publciations!

• CommentRowNumber192.
• CommentAuthorzskoda
• CommentTimeMay 27th 2012

Surely. If you do book let me know (I will be quite in hurry in those few days after June 15, and fine planning for me is useful).

• CommentRowNumber193.
• CommentAuthorMike Shulman
• CommentTimeMay 29th 2012

Maybe if we are about to start soliciting submissions more widely, we could actually get the people who agreed to be editors involved, so that the steering committee doesn’t end up handling everything?

I also hope that by mentioning our willingness to referee, Domenico and I don’t end up being the only referees of the nJournal. (-: I was under the impression that it would operate similarly to a traditional journal in that regard, with editors contacting potential referees directly even if they have not previously offered their services.

• CommentRowNumber194.
• CommentAuthorUrs
• CommentTimeMay 29th 2012

I was under the impression that it would operate similarly to a traditional journal in that regard, with editors contacting potential referees directly even if they have not previously offered their services.

Sure. But since currently the situation is that the referees we searched (I searched) had less time than necessary so far, and since this is currently slowing the project down, I thought it might be useful to turn this around and first check for which subjects referees are available.