The digital PlantLife: what to expect in the first edition

A magnificent stand of Aloe vanbalenii at a southern KZN nursery

The Aloes are starting to flower and on the lower south coast of KZN the Erythrina caffra and Erythrina lysistemon trees lining the township roads are dropping their orange-red petals. Winter, what little we have of it along the KZN coastline, is here. And just around the corner is when I expect to publish the first digital edition of PlantLife. I was tempted to call this the Winter 2018 edition but realised that could be confusing to any readers from the northern hemisphere so instead, it will be the July 2018 edition.

This is my first venture into the detailed part of publishing - perhaps fortuitously so, as I had few preconceived ideas going into the process. I find myself focusing more on how best to present interesting articles to readers and less on how to deliver a product that looks like a paper magazine. I know there are ways to make the magazine on a screen act like a paper magazine but at this stage that sort of technology is beyond my capability and my non-existent budget.

This first edition will be coming out as a series of articles, each as separate posts, although all of them will be under the PlantLife SA, Volume 43, July 2018 banner. This has been done both to facilitate quick access to an article that catches the reader's attention as well as to provide the editorial team with statistics on how many readers each article attracts. Clearly, the statistics will help the editorial team to meet reader expectations better in future editions. Although for the current edition there will be no attempt to provide downloadable versions of the articles, most readers will be receiving the articles by email and can archive those in ways that best suit them. Readers should also bear in mind that all posts will be archived on the website and can be retrieved at any time. Using the "Search" facility will quickly find relevant information in earlier posts. Neither of these attributes is available in a hard copy journal and I trust readers will soon appreciate the benefits.

Most of the articles for the first electronic edition are at final draft stage and I believe I am still on track to press the "Publish" button at the end of this month. Those of you who have subscribed by filling in your email details in the "Follow by email" box should then receive a flurry of emails, one for each article posted. I expect there to be a total of seven articles together with a Banner/Cover Page which also contains the index. One of these articles will be a slot I have made available for botanical artists to display their work and I hope they take up the challenge.

At the bottom of each article is a box where comments can be posted publicly. Alternatively, comments can be directed to plantlife.editor@gmail.com. I hope that readers will let me hear their views on this new venture as this will help us fine-tune future editions so it becomes a journal which you look forward to receiving and reading.

The dawn of the digital edition of PlantLife is coming

Dawn at Msikaba River mouth

The first edition of the digital PlantLife journal is finally coming together. I am sure those of you who have subscribed to the digital journal by typing in your details into the "Follow by email" box on the PlantLifesouthafrica homepage will be pleased that at last there is some action occurring.

The deadline for submission of articles by authors who have agreed to contribute to this first edition is the end of June 2018 and it looks like they all expect to be on time. That leaves me and the editorial committee with the job of compiling the journal's content and posting to the website - a process that I hope will be completed by the end of July.

I hope there will be articles to attract your attention and that you will enjoy reading this first digital edition. Your approval will be assessed by the number of visits to the website, but your suggestions and comments will be welcome, as this journal will only succeed by keeping readers interested.

I hope to give you a further update as progress is made.

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