we're in trouble! - (2 points)

Rob Harper harper at convex.csc.FI
Fri Jul 8 02:13:17 EST 1994

In <CsHF8o.7tH at usenet.ucs.indiana.edu> gilbertd at sunflower.bio.indiana.edu 
(Don Gilbert) writes:
>In an electronic journal, it may make more sense
>to publish every thing but weight each document by readers comments
>and votes.  

This is an interesting concept... yes power to the people.

The editors of magazines must really have their finger on the pulse
of what is happening in science to be able to choose the right articles
for their journals. I have been editing a local magazine for CSC, and
the main task is the thankless and tedious job of trying to get people
to meet deadlines. If you also make contributions to journals then your
perfect manuscript filled with subtle jokes and literary allusions gets
shreded beyond all recognition, when the editor makes it conform to the
"style" of his journal. Since both sides are disgruntled and dismayed
by the whole process of paper publishing, there needs to be a new way.

>This could reduce problems with editors not being able to find
>people w/ enough time to preview documents, or with selecting a poor 
>subset of the peer population to provide an accurate preview of the document.

I think that e-publishing will become a cottage industry. Even today 
individuals are publishing all sorts of material on WEB home pages.
Some are solid science, some are for fun. It would appear that the 
internet is the last great fronter to be conqured. There is certainly
a pioneer spirit that is evident in the richness and imaginativeness
in the style of different home pages.

As a recent experiment in giving "power to the people" I set up a
"roll your own hotlist" which gives people the chance to add a URL to
a WEB page. The list is dynamic in that there are three different
options GO to a URL, ADD and new URL, or DELETE a URL you don't like.
My basic philosophy is that over a period of time the list will evolve
so that we will have a "top 50" Web sites in biology. I could also see
this applied to articles on a server. Although there is always the
danger that some jerk out of spite screws the whole thing up by
deleting URL'S... but that is democracy for you.

I would like to make a comment on these dynamic lists. I decided to
make a couple of them "Biologists at Work" topbio, and "Biologists at play"

URL http://shamrock.csc.fi:81/cgi-bin/topbio
URL http://shamrock.csc.fi:81/cgi-bin/altbio

Much to my surprise an pleasure altbio has proved to be more popular
than topbio... which more than confirms my suspicions that biologists
can be human beings after all. In the altbio section there are gems
like pig pictures, Safe sex, Adam Curry's MTV and Madame Furry's Empty.TV.
For the last two you need to clone a window in mosaic and read them in
parallel to get the full effect:-)

On the more serious side on topbio there were a couple of URLs that
were completely new to me, even me as an intrepid webwanderer
had somehow bypassed them. The virus visualizations from the Univ
of Wisconsin were both in mpeg and quicktime and were very well done.

Connect direct to Dr. Fun.  URL http://shamrock.csc.fi/bank/fun.html

For me at least this has been the most important thing about topbio.
It gives the ordinary user a chance to say "look at this... isn't it
great". It is a sort of resource discovery, where lists are
dynamically prepared by the ordinary user rather than the net guru.
I think that is exciting. For so long the information we recieve has
been filtered by editors, and it has been done in the name of quality
control. With the advent of e-publishing the endusers themselves will
be the editors, the peer reviewers, and the publishers.

I wonder if we are ready for the revolution?

Rob "I really have been out in the sun too long" Harper. 

 R. Andrew Harper                  E-mail:          harper at convex.csc.fi    
 Center for Scientific Computing   Molbio/software: harper at nic.funet.fi
 Tietotie 6, P.O. Box 405          Telephone:       +358 0 457 2076
 SF-02101 Espoo Finland            Fax:             +358 0 457 2302

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