Re: E-publish or perish

Tue, 14 Jun 1994 11:58:18 -0400

>Then comes the question, how to use it. That's a judgment about "value" and
>that, of course, means politics or, let's be crude, marketing. What you
>gonna offer the guys who're sitting pretty in the current system that will
>make them interested in change? This scheme I'm suggesting looks like it
>(1) would make their own jobs easier, (2) be fairer than the local politics
>of small committees, (3) have the side-benefit of mapping intellectual
>movements in a way that might be intrinsically interesting...All right it's
>only a beginning. Over to you.
>John McCreery (JLM@TWICS.COM)

I happen to like your suggestion. Indeed, if we go over to 100%
electronic publishing, then such a system is viable, because especially in
a hypertext-oriented citation system, we can see exactly how much 'impact'
a particular document has - how many links are there to it?
But, it isn't likely that we *will* go over to 100% electronic
publishing, precisely because people are likely well into the near future
to continue considering e-journals less prestigious because their layout
may not be as nice (but with improving graphical abilities and
cross-platform translatability, this will improve; perhaps through changes
in PostScript) and, likewise, they are not *rare* and therefore, as you
say, considered 'cheap.'
(For this reason, therefore, people who will *not* publish in
e-journals will claim that your system discriminates against them, since it
can't track *their* mode of publication.)
It is true that in a market economy, faster, more available, more
copies, means "cheap." But in academia, we are at least in theory supposed
to be in a knowledge economy. It seems perverse in a system supposedly
based on sharing knowledge that rarity of appearance (the Journal of
Diamorphic Modular Doodadism is read by only 100 people worldwide, and none
of them have ever met!) is considered equivalent to PRESTIGE. That may be
fine for Rolexes, it doesn't seem true for academia, unless we still are
operating in the 13th century mindset that academians are some kind of
elite, esoteric knowledge priesthood...
As I see it, electronic journals have lots of advantages - including
some Hugh Jarvis brings up: you don't have to read the whole thing and you
can have good search interfaces for looking for the things you *DO* want to
read - and some small disadvantages, e.g. you've got to be careful with
your laptop or PDA when in the jungle or doing underwater archaeology...
Therefore, I see no reason to permit an automatic equivalence between
rarity and quality... I just don't see why in academia lack of availability
should translate to prestige. And such silly excuses should not hinder
those of us who see the advantages in e-publishing.

Seeker1 [@Nervm.Nerdc.Ufl.Edu] (real info available on request)
CyberAnthropologist, TechnoCulturalist, Guerilla Ontologist, Chaotician
Discordian Society, Counter-Illuminati Operations Branch
"The map is not the territory." -- Alfred Korzybski
"The menu is not the meal." -- Alan Watts