Physics Today Online gets a makeover
November 4 was not only election day but also the day that Physics Today Online (PTOL) launched its new look as part of a campaign to dramatically expand PTOL's presence over the next four years. For first-time visitors, the cleaner, more sectional homepage calls attention to the increasing amount of original content available through the site. Load the page, and I'll take you on a tour.
A new main section distinguishes the print edition, while clickable boxes on the right-hand side highlight the latest science news and events, and offer links to AIP Member Society websites. The Campaign 2008 feature, which tracked the presidential candidates' positions on science policy, has been reformulated into a "Politics and Policy" section that is updated weekly, and brings attention to AIP's FYI policy news bulletin. To the right of this box is "Physics Update," an "online-first" product published twice weekly and later bundled into the monthly print issue. Traffic to this section has tripled in the last two weeks because of its new visibility. As the website has grown, so has the number of RSS feeds—PTOL's top four feeds are easily accessed in the middle of the right column. The "Research Today" section displays the latest physics papers by category from AIP Member Society journals and arXiv, an e-print service in the fields of physics and allied sciences. A link to the Buyers' Guide rounds off the homepage.
Every page of the website includes a site map to easily attract readers to commonly asked questions, such as how to contact an editor. As the weeks progress, the table of contents page will be modified to improve the user experience as part of a more evolutionary approach to web design, which calls for frequent "micro" improvements to the design to tweak its efficiency and usability.
The redesign is already increasing the visibility of Physics Today articles to authors. For example, while attending a workshop in Croatia, Houston G. Wood, author of an article on centrifuges that appeared in the September issue of Physics Today, found that he could immediately cut and paste a permanent link to his article into his presentation. This added feature was compliments of the Scitation 2.0 upgrade.
Not all the enhancements in the new PTOL, however, are visible to the public. For example, the December print issue sees a new production workflow introduced that saves a significant amount of time in converting the magazine to a web format.
The new design is the first phase of a more detailed upgrade that lays the groundwork for PTOL to take advantage of Polopoly, AIP's new content management system. Polopoly allows PTOL staff to edit, publish, and delete content directly on the Scitation platform, and will increase the timeliness and frequency of PTOL content. The improvements help maintain Physics Today as a primary resource for the physics community and Member Societies for the foreseeable future.
Third annual PXP users group meeting
In late October, AIP hosted the third annual Peer X-Press users group meeting in Melville, NY. As in past years, this year's meeting gave editorial staff from both Member Society and AIP journals the opportunity to share their PXP experiences and learn from each other. Also, the PXP team updated users concerning the latest status and features of Peer X-Press. Over dinner the night before the meeting, during group discussions, and through breakout sessions, valuable ideas and information were exchanged, helping improve the PXP platform both now and in the future. This year, the attendees were also treated to a presentation by guest speaker John Lewis from the Electrochemical Society. John shared a success story of how AIP has partnered with ECS to use PXP to efficiently manage and produce their conference proceedings, ECS Transactions. PXP has enabled ECS to publish a much larger percentage of conference papers in a far shorter period of time. As a result, ECS has been able to publish proceedings of all its biannual meetings since May 2006, as well as many ECS cosponsored meetings and symposia.
The tale of the headless dog
Few people today know that one of the dogs that stands guard at ACP's playground was involved in a near-fatal accident 40 years ago in New York City. In the mid-1960s, when the concrete canine was stationed in front of AIP's 45th Street headquarters, a car backed into it, decapitating it. Joan Barton—daughter of AIP's founding director, Henry A. Barton—came to the rescue and restored it to useful life.
Last week, Joan and her sister Jenneke made their first-ever visit to ACP to visit the dog and to tour the History Center and Library & Archives, where their father's papers document AIP's early years. They recently donated additional materials to our already rich collection. After returning home, Jenneke wrote, "We both came away with the warm feeling that we are one of the family (again)!"
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