I'm Morgan McGuire (@CasualEffects). I've been working on computer graphics and games for 20 years at great places including NVIDIA, Williams College, Brown University, and Activision.

See my home page for a full index of my blog posts, books, research, and projects.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Journal of Computer Graphics Techniques

I'm the Editor in Chief of the Journal of Computer Graphics Techniques (JCGT), the free, peer-reviewed, and open access journal of computer graphics practice. JCGT was founded in May 2012 by an influential group of computer graphics experts.  Our goal is to document and advance the state of the art, in the way that Graphics Gems and the Journal of Graphics Tools (jgt) each did. I don't mention those two publications casually. Both were created by Andrew Glassner, who is on the new JCGT advisory board, and all former jgt Editors-in-Chief and most of the 2012 jgt editorial board now serve on the JCGT board.

Next week, most of the JCGT board will be at SIGGRAPH. I encourage anyone to talk to them about the new journal.  The numbers alone are fascinating for a brand-new scientific publication with no commercial advertising:
I've received a lot of great questions by e-mail and in person at conferences about the nuts and bolts of the journal, such as how we handle copyright and publishing. Many of these are addressed on the submissions page of the website. I plan to add new information to the website in September about how our back-end systems work. This is important for helping others to create online scholarly publications and for explaining how papers published in JCGT will be available indefinitely despite inevitable change in how electronic documents are stored and retrieved.

Ronen Barzel suggested that I share the answer to one common question that many people are simply curious about: how is the JCGT board funding the journal?

The answer comes in three parts. First, it isn't that expensive to publish a graphics journal electronically. All of the writing, editing, and reviewing is done by volunteers and most of the software is free open source (LaTeX, BibTeX, Apache, MySQL, mod_xslt2, Emacs, Ubuntu, etc.)  The board is unpaid, as is the case for most academic editorial positions. Graphics authors and editors are capable of producing professional-quality typesetting, layout, and diagrams on their own.

Second, Williams College has a grant from the Mellon Foundation to create digital archives to match the quality and reliability of the college's substantial physical scholarly archives. Those physical archives are in rare books, visual art, scholarly journals, and congressional papers. I find the breadth and depth of those fascinating: the college's holdings include original drafts of the US Declaration of Independence and Constitution, first editions of major scientific works such as  Principia Mathematica , and paintings by major artists such as Picasso. The college is well-positioned to archive and conserve digital computer graphics papers and unlike a commercial publisher, an academic library has no agenda for those materials beyond preserving knowledge for all. 

Third, the minor incidental costs of advertising, hosting, and legal are being picked up out of pocket by a few of us. Of of the financial contributions and dues I've given to graphics organizations, this was the one I was most pleased to make. We're not accepting donations or seeking outside funding--that would subject us to bookkeeping overhead and legal requirements. If you want to support the journal, the best way to do so is to read it, write for it, and offer your services as a reviewer.

Morgan McGuire is a professional game developer and professor of Computer Science at Williams College. He is the Editor in Chief of the Journal of Computer Graphics Techniques and the author of The Graphics Codex, an essential reference for computer graphics that runs on iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.