PubPub as publication platform

We have now been through our first NIME with a new publication platform (PubPub):

Getting away from the very dated ACM-based template that we used in the past has been a frequent request for many years. PubPub solves many issues, such as allowing for more flexible viewing modes, providing better accessibility, multimedia support, etc. However, no system is perfect.

We would love to hear more about what you think about PubPub as a platform and how we should move forward from here.

This link isn’t working for me (Page Not Found).

Ah, updated the URL now.

Pubpub has certain advantages - supports rich media, does away with the page limit, has some citation handling. Those things are ok.

The disadvantages however loom large, the biggest one I see being that we’re tying the entirety of our published output to a commercial platform. I’m not sure this is a wise move - I am not confident that Pubpub will be around for as long as NIME could be. Other than that the reference handling wasn’t that good and made everyone very prone to duplicating references, something that bibtex solved a very long time ago. I also thought that @andrew’s point about these publications not looking like academic publications is also an excellent point; if we want to be more outward-facing, then we should think about what it would mean to be relevant and credible to those outside our own community.

Ultimately I don’t see how Pubpub contributes something vital to NIME that a well-designed latex template couldn’t. The only really tangible improvement this year was moving to word limits instead of page limits, and excluding references, but that had nothing to do with the publishing platform.

1 Like

I agree with @astrid! I’ve filled the NIME survey and pointed out the same negative aspects.

One more negative aspect to consider is how PubPub deals with citations: how it’s presented and the lack of management (.bib file compatibility or connection with reference platforms).

I don’t want to be too negative, and I feel PubPub has potential, but my experience was not great.

1 Like

You make good points @astrid. For what it’s worth it appears that PubPub is a non-profit project, and the organisation behind it is a partnership between MIT Press and the MIT Media Lab: About · Knowledge Futures Group

That said, longevity is a difficult question no matter whose servers the papers are archived on. The advantage of PDFs is that they require very little effort to host and easily fit with institutional repositories. On top of that they integrate with existing research workflows and bibliography management software, can be read offline, etc. It becomes easier to have several mirrors of the proceedings which don’t need special maintenance by us.

I believe the plan is already to archive PDFs either on Zenodo or, or both. But in the current version of PubPub, the quality of the PDF seems like an afterthought – the text is unreasonably large, the formatting is nowhere near as professional as LaTeX, the title page doesn’t look great. Fundamentally the PDF just doesn’t look like many people expect a research paper to look, and that hurts researchers (especially early career) who face pressures to justify their work to people not familiar with NIME.

There is a secondary issue to make sure the archived PDF (not just the HTML paper) is properly archived by Google Scholar, though scraping correct metadata is a challenge even with the existing template.

I think these issues are fixable, depending on the priorities of the PubPub team, but in the short term we have to carefully consider the tradeoffs.

Incidentally, the tradeoffs might be different with something like a NIME journal, where we don’t already have existing infrastructure and we might want a deeper integration of companion materials as part of the identity of the journal. I could imagine a scenario in which we used PubPub or a similar platform for a journal even as the conference proceedings returned to the old templates.


Something else that has just come to my attention that is something to consider: On Pubpub there’s no email addresses in the author information, so no way to get hold of the authors unless you already know them.

I can imagine that this was a choice to avoid spam, but surely this information could be hidden in the online version but included in the downloadable PDF.

1 Like

Hi all,

I tend to agree on all issues raised above.

I would also add that having to do a lot of the editing (at least fixing references / inserting media) on an online platform is very problematic from an environmental point of view.

If PubPub had a better import system (e.g. using pandoc ?) which would allow us to keep the previous (LaTeX → pdf or Writer/Word → pdf) workflows and previous NIME template, and enrich the final documents with interactive/multimedia content, maybe that would constitute an interesting solution.

1 Like