Sometimes I feel like I'm an expert in how not to build digital scholarly communities. Or, at least, I seem to have been beating my head against this virtual wall for longer than most.In the beginning, I had grand aspirations for Screen-L and ScreenSite--founded in 1991 and 1994, respectively. I thought they would open new forms of academic dialogue in film and TV studies. My vision was that networked communication would connect scholars and students across great distances and do so instantaneously. There would be in-depth conversations about media theory and history, with no page limits or stuffy journal review process to constrain us!
The reality has been much more modest. As the years have gone by Screen-L has evolved into a place to post academic announcements rather than a forum for exchanging ideas. And ScreenSite's most recent incarnation is not much more than a link farm.
For those of us who have founded resources for media studies, the first challenge has been how to lure users to online creations that are new and different, and maybe a bit strange. And the second challenge has been how to motivate interaction among the participants. For a true online community is one where users share with each other.
My current thinking is that standalone online scholarly resources are doomed. Rather, we need to develop innovative ways of hooking into successful social media--Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Wikipedia, and whatever the Next Big Thing might be. Integrative, interactive intertextuality is the future.