Re: Restructuring Learned Society Communications

From: Tony Barry <> <harnad_at_COGSCI.SOTON.AC.UK>
Date: Sun, 30 Aug 1998 06:20:33 -0400

On Fri, 28 Aug 1998, Murray Turoff <> wrote:

>I feel that everyone is going through the classic automation flaw. Too
>many people seem to feel that the on line journal is going to be the
>same as and will operate in the same manner as the paper one. Just
>cheaper costs and faster operation. This is why many systems never
>realize the opportunities for doing things in new and better ways.

Without going into the details of this most interesting paper much of which
I agree with I want to comment that the Journal as it exists is an artifact
of the technology used - paper.

Print production of small documents which required large distribution is
expensive. The solution was to bundle many of them into a single print run.
If you had a regular stream of them the journal emerged. Three hundred
years ago, when the Royal Society decided to switch to the not so new
fangled technology of print, to disseminate the minutes of its meetings and
letters from its members relating to their research, the Philosophical
Transactions of the Royal Society was born.

It came at a cost. There are limitations on the size of the contributions.
A uniformity of style was imposed. There were limitations on the type of
material which could be included. Distribution was shifted to a fixed
schedule and so on. BUT it was a lot cheaper than copying or circulation
handwritten manuscripts.

If you shift away from print to electronic these and other limitations
change or disappear. new opportunities also arise some of which have been
referred to in Murray Turoff's posting.

The question is not really print versus electronic versions of journals. It
is can we find more powerful forms of scholarly communication utilising
new communication technologies which have advantages sufficient to supplant
or add to the print journal model of scholarly communication?

Tony Barry

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Received on Tue Aug 25 1998 - 19:17:43 BST

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