Publishing Futures Group

Promoting the efficient and equitable dissemination of research information, along with new forms of digital scholarship, has never been more urgent. In the context of ongoing changes in the mechanics and economics of scholarly publishing, the MIT Press and the MIT Media Lab have launched a joint initiative to transform research publishing by developing and deploying open source publishing technologies in the service of open access scholarship.

The Publishing Futures Group will invent and launch innovative products and services. We will focus on collaboration, prototyping, and systems change. The PFG is an incubator, a knowledge transfer agency, and a staging platform for the development of novel open source publishing systems and services. Our primary objectives are to promote greater institutional self-determination and ownership of published scholarship and the encompassing information ecosystem, and to create a roadmap for innovation, long-term sustainability, and greater publishing impact. We consider the PFG itself an ‘open source’ entity.

The PFG is currently incubating PubPub, an open authoring and publishing platform initially developed at the Media Lab. PubPub socializes the process of knowledge creation by integrating conversation, annotation, and versioning into short- and long-form digital publication. PubPub is home to Frankenbook, an interactive edition of Frankenstein: Annotated for Scientists, Engineers, and Creators of All Kinds (MIT Press, 2017). PubPub also hosts the Journal of Design and Science (JoDS), which forges new connections between science and design and breaks down the barriers between traditional academic disciplines. We envision JoDS as the node in a network of online debates and intelligent discussion that is rooted in the Media Lab’s unique research and design ethos.

The MIT Press and the Media Lab have a long history of collaboration, beginning with renowned designer Muriel Cooper, who was the Press’ first art director and later a founding faculty member of the Media Lab. Both Press and Lab reflect the values of MIT, an institution that places a premium on experimentation, invention, and open information access. Since its launch in 1962, the MIT Press has been changing the rules of engagement between academic authors and their readers. It was one of the first publishers to exploit the potential of the internet, producing open access interactive books as early as the mid-1990s. From its inception in 1985, the Lab was at the vanguard of the technology that enabled the digital revolution and enhanced human expression. Now in its fourth decade, the Media Lab continues to check traditional disciplines at the door as designers, nanotechnologists, data-visualization experts, biologists, and computer interface pioneers work side by side to reinvent the human-technology relationship.


Our efforts are supported by:

Siegel Family Endowment
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
Collaborative Knowledge Foundation


Member of the Group:

Joi Ito
Director, Media Lab
Travis Rich
Media Lab
Lorrie LeJeune
Media Lab
Amy Brand
Director, MIT Press
Catherine Ahearn
MIT Press
Terry Ehling
MIT Press


MIT Media Lab
The MIT Press