Van Heerden is founder-editor (since January 1999) of the LitNet web community (www.litnet.co.za). He is editor and manager of this large and dynamic online community and managing director of the non-profit company LitNet Akademies.
Van Heerden initiated the outreach project www.litnet.co.za in 1999 as an online journal for new writing, books and culture. It has since grown to a multilingual (Afrikaans, Dutch, Xhosa and English) sponsorship-driven virtual community with approximately 153 000 unique monthly users (May 2017 statistics), downloading approximately 400 000 pages per month (May 2017 statistics), with new material added seven days per week on different platforms. All contributions are archived, with the result that LitNet has grown into a valuable archive for academic and cultural research, and is frequently cited.
The LitNet node LitNet Akademies acts as home for accredited academic research in a variety of disciplines. LitNet Akademies is regarded as a highly dynamic online academic journal within the Open Access Movement, with nodes for the Humanities, Law, Natural Sciences, Religious Studies and Education. Top academics act as editors of the different disciplines and approximately seventy accredited academic articles are published per year. This journal is part of the hypertext environment LitNet and published academic research is promoted on other LitNet nodes by means of online seminars, interviews with researchers and other methods.
The website www.litnet.co.za itself has become an object of study. In addition to this research on LitNet as a project, conducted by researchers in several fields (information sciences, new media, journalism and language planning), Van Heerden’s own belletristic work is regularly included in academic programmes at universities in Africa, the USA, Europe and the UK. His oeuvre is the focus of dissertations internationally and academic articles in peer-reviewed journals and papers read at international and local conferences.