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Notes From the Editor

Thomas E. Leathrum

I am very happy to be the new editor of Loci, and I am looking forward to the opportunity to work with so many outstanding people. I particularly want to thank the fine people who served as Editors of the precursor journals to Loci: Kyle Siegrist (Journal of Online Math and its Applications), Victor Katz (Convergence), and Doug Ensley (Digital Classroom Resources); also, particular thanks go to David Smith, founding Editor of JOMA (and one of the people who originally recurited me into the JOMA team), and Lang Moore, Executive Director of MathDL. Much of the vision I have for the future of Loci I have inherited from watching their work.

When Kyle Siegrist began his term as Editor of JOMA, he wondered openly in his introductory Editor's Notes about the role of an online scholarly journal in a technological world dedicated to ease of self-publication. The technology of online publication has evolved quickly since then, from blogs and Wikis (and the more modern, short attention span "tweets") to YouTube, social networking sites, and virtual worlds. Even with these new technologies, though, the role of a publication like Loci remains: to provide a mechanism for scholarly peer review so that the highest quality online mathematics materials will be collected together. JOMA has also shown that an online venue allows for new modes of structuring and presenting mathematical content, innovations which Loci must continue.

I feel that Loci must learn from the emerging social aspects of the new technologies in order to expand our community, but adding these new online tools will not be enough alone to attract new readers, and even the highest quality content is of little use if few people see it. So one of my main roles as Editor will be to find ways to build the Loci community in ways that go far beyond online publication. I wouldn't be doing my job if my only contributions to Loci happened on the Loci site. If you are reading this, you are already part of our community, and I welcome you and thank you -- now go tell a friend, a colleague, anyone you know who you think would be interested in Loci, whether in MySpace or down the hallway.

Let me take some time to walk you around what Loci looks like now. This may change somewhat in the near future -- in fact, I am hoping it will. A group of about 20 MathDL participants attended a workshop in October where we discussed many new ideas. As changes happen, though, I will describe them in future Notes.

The Loci main site includes three primary areas: the "Featured Items" area, which at this time contains the most recent featured articles from JOMA, high-quality expository and scholarly mathematics articles which particularly benefit from online presentation; the "Loci: Convergence" area, for which you will click the button and be taken to a page devoted to the material which had been in Convergence, focusing on important and treasured aspects of math history, presented online so as to be widely accessible; and the "Loci: Resources" area, for which you will click the button and be taken to a page devoted to the material which had been in the Digital Classroom Resources, high-quality online tools for mathematics instruction. This is the initial approach to merging the material from the three prior online journals into Loci. I expect new divisions of materials and new material categories and areas to be added soon, and I expect the distirbution of materials between these areas to be adjusted, but these divisions will remain.

The navigation tools on the top and left side of each Loci page are inherited from MathDL and the content management system we share. These provide easy searching and browsing access to the Loci archives, which include the merged archives of the previous journals and their predecessors. I recommend that you register yourself with MathDL so that you can take full advantage of the My Library functions (collecting links to articles of interest, creating and participating in discussion forums, and sharing your materials with registered friends and colleagues). If you are already a member of MAA, you already have a MathDL account -- follow the link on the registration page to find your account information. Look also for RSS feeds in both Loci and MathDL -- for example, "Loci: Convergence" includes feeds for "Math in the News" current events and "Today in Mathematics" historical events. Many browsers include single-click functions to "subscribe" to feeds, which will give you daily updates to that content.

So again: thank you for joining us, and welcome to the Loci community -- explore, enjoy, and spread the word.

Thomas E. Leathrum, "Notes From the Editor," Convergence (December 2008)