Electronic publishing

Don Gilbert gilbertd at silver.ucs.indiana.edu
Tue Aug 7 22:26:11 EST 1990

My two cents on electronic publication:

*  We had a bit of discussion on this a few months back.  The 
drosophila information service journal may be still looking into the 
idea.  Graphics are still a hang-up -- there are several "standards" 
but none is standard enough to reach everyone.  I think that any try 
to duplicate a printed journal will need to make the data available 
in several formats and let the user choose which (if any) he can 
read.  Plain ascii text is still the common denominator, but then 
there are many biologists who don't have (or use) computers.   The 
time/cost for setting up such an e-publication is large because of 
the multiple format problem. Contributors will not be able to send 
in standard formats either.  I am used to reading info on video 
monitors rather than paper, and I much prefer formatted/typeset to 
plain text.  Average joe biologist who spends less time in front of 
a computer will require printed or printable copy (this decade 
anyway).  Postscript or Fax printers would suit some as output 
options.  An e-pub for any science discipline that mimics paper pubs 
would have a big problem with the mechanics of formatting, and would 
have a small readership.  But I also think it would be worth a try.

*  I think e-publication should _not_ try to mimic paper 
publication, but look to the currently successful electronic info 
distribution media:  e-mail, netnews and archives.  The combination 
of these three media allows scientists much more free and rapid 
exchange of hypotheses/data/results/discussion than any month-lagged 
paper media.   I've been publishing my software works first and 
mostly exclusively via this ether network for about 5 years now, 
first thru Compuserve and recently Internet. It makes sense for 
software.  I publish a new work by placing it in a public archive or 
two, and sending out notices (abstracts) via public bulletin board 
or network newsgroup.  Typically I will get responses from users 
with in a few days which help solve most of the problems that I 
missed (the review period).  Then it is easy as pie to re-distribute 
the corrected information (sometimes too easy, leading to hiccup 
updates).  The software (article) sits in the archive and propagates 
itself through the computer net at speeds depending on its 
popularity and usefulness.  Noise or useless articles are self-
restricting.  As people pick the software (article) up from servers, 
some will fire back questions by e-mail, which I dutifully reply to 
(if the program hasn't reached obsolesence yet).

Maybe this method will make sense for disemination of other science 
research as people look at it more.  If someone wants to try now, 
please feel free to drop off articles at Iubio archive, directory 
[archive.receive].  Choice of formats is your own headache (but if 
it's good, someone else will translate it as needed).

Don Gilbert  biocomputing office   / archive for 
gilbertd at iubio.bio.indiana.edu    / molecular & general biology 
biology dept., indiana univ.,    / ftp iubio.bio.indiana.edu  
bloomington, in  47405, usa     / ( user anonymous 

Don.Gilbert at Iubio.Bio.Indiana.Edu
biocomputing office, indiana univ., bloomington, in 47405, usa

More information about the Biomatrx mailing list