what the medium is FOR

Andrea Chen dbennett at crl.com
Mon Mar 20 22:09:02 EST 1995


hunt at academic.stu.StThomasU.ca (Russ Hunt) writes:

>Mike Kenney says:

>>The Internet was never intended to replace journals as a publishing medium.
>>It's original purpose was *communication*.  Few papers are actually 
>>published on the Internet but draft copies are passed around all the time.
>>It is also the perfect medium for distributing experimental data.

>	Well, yes, but there's no reason why it shouldn't be used as a 
>publishing medium whatever might have been "intended" -- I wonder whether 
>anyone ever intended that it be used for a discussion like this.  In some 
>cases it already _is_ being used as a publishing medium: there are journals 
>that offer electronic versions, and others coming online _as_ electronic 
>journals.  Why not?  It's a hell of a lot more efficient than shipping all 
>those blocks of unread paper around the world.  I don't see why the net 
>shouldn't include space for both what I'm writing now and what I'll be 
>sending off to, say, _Poetics_ or _Research in the Teaching of English_ next 
>month. 
>					-- Russ


A brief note on academic journals.  There are over 10,000.  Some cost
several thousand for a yearly subscription.  Many cost hundreds.  No
university no matter how rich can afford more than a fraction.  Many
universities don't even have research that they did in their own
libraries.  In addition paper based journals are specialized,  they
tend to be in narrow subspecialities where each scholar publishes
even if the work is of interest across a wide spectrum of disciplines.
The costs of this is immense.  Just think how many years before Lorenz
was discovered by pioneers in Chaos math because his work was in
an obscure meterological journal.  Delay times for articles are often
a year (there was big stink because this even occured with the
discovery of AIDs).   Directly and indirectly the federal government
pays hundreds of millions possibly billions buying the journals for 
universities and research teams.  Large well financed libraries give
give big rich universities a significant advantage over poorer ones
even though there is evidence that small schools are sometimes better
places to learn,  the lack of serious "knowlege facilities" dicourages
serious students and scholars.

Obviously some journals (the dominant ones maybe numbering a thousand
or so) should remain on paper.  But the rest?  We the people through
the government are paying most of the cost.  We could dramatically
reduce this cost by building an electronic archive and cutting 
funding (at least printing,  there is some argument for keeping
editorial staff) for existing journals and building virtual journals.
We could also require that all papers payed for with taxpayer dollars
be put into this archive. We could probaly make money selling access
to foreign countries.  Right now huge numbers of papers are in
addition to being published faxed or mailed (again often with 
taxpayers money) to those who are interested.

This is an immense opportunity.  In a time of budget cuts it is a
win win situtation for threatened institutions.  A richer knowleger
base for more people for less money.   Yet the first poster says this
is not a legitimate function for I-net and in other places decries
the coming of neubies like me who would "ruin it".  I'm sorry
guys this is not a BBS. This is part of the world future.  

              - ac -


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