Electronic publication

Una Smith UNASMITH at pucc.Princeton.EDU
Wed Oct 3 18:59:00 EST 1990

> Roy Smith <

>        What do you think about an electronic journal?

[stuff deleted]

Sounds great.  But what you describe is mostly making the
mechanics of submitting to a journal electronic, which some paper
journals already are.  While it is nice to read stuff via email,
the pleasure is largely in the immediacy, not the act of looking
at a monitor.  Wouldn't it be nice to have extremely rapid
turn-around of submitted manuscripts, and immediate receipt by
subscribers be nice?  Wouldn't it be nicer to have all that _and_
a paper copy for passing on to friends who don't/can't get email,
or for filing away in existing filing systems?  If a document
isn't used often, there is little justification for keeping it on
a computer, and paper archives are often more convenient and
durable than computer tape archives.

>        Much as I think it's a neat idea, I realize the world isn't ready for
>this quite yet.  How to deal with figures, for example, is just one of many
>technical problems.  And I won't even touch the problems of peer
acceptance, >or accesibility of archives via a conventional
library.  Just thought I'd >being it up as food for thought, and
as a teaser to start some discussion.

Figures are not really a problem.  Let me explain with an actual
example.   You may have seen reports in the newspapers, whenever a new
fast computer comes out on the market, that give figures from the Dongarra
Report.  This report is a carefully written, typeset manuscript authored
by one Jack Dongarra at Los Alamos.  The latest version is always available
in a public archive from which interested readers can get a copy.  The
document is stored in MS Word format;  to read it, each user downloads the
paper to a Macintosh computer, and prints it from there.  It is now possible,
given agreement among the parties involved as to standard formats, for any
document to be made available (and received by its readers) as soon as it is
finished.  It is not uncommon in Physics for this to happen.  In countries
without an electronic network infrastructure, fax machines are a good

>        Think about it.  Do you think it's a good idea?  Do you think it
>could be made to work in a year?  Two years?  Five?  Ten?  Twenty?  What if
>the technical problems could be solved today, say by magically putting a 10
>MIPS Megapixel greyscale X terminal on everybody's desk, with universal T1 or
>better connectivity?  Would you subscribe?  Would you submit manuscripts to
>it?  Would your colleagues?

Why would you need such hardware to read a document?  The document would
naturally be tranmitted in its entirety to your machine, not spoon-fed
across the ether.  However 'interactive' a document may appear to be, with
(let's imagine) sound and full color, it's still a static document.  The
personal computers sitting on most of our desks today, plus our better
printers, are adequate to match or better the quality of delivery of any
printed journal _today_, not n years from now.

  - Una            UNASMITH at PUCC                 : BITNET
                   unasmith at pucc.Princeton.EDU   : Internet
                   una at tropic.Princeton.EDU      : Internet

More information about the Bioforum mailing list