I fear that the important and stimulating CyberJournal debate is in
danger of being lost in a battle of metaphor.
The boring but true facts of the matter are:-
The economies of electronic networked publication dictate that it will
become the standard medium for esoteric journals. Duplication costs are
trivial, subscription management costs are negligible (unless you really
want to complicate it) and the length of copy no longer has to be
constrained by print costs.
Once a substantial corpus of texts are available on-line, instant access
to citations will lead the reader effortlessly to other relevant
publications. Indexing is thus being complemented by on-line, in-text
cross referencing, something that no Gutenberg journal or library can
The "imminent privatisation" scare is a red herring. Universities and
other sites, as well as individuals, currently pay for their internet
access. We know what it costs to provide the service and any private
carrier intending to hike prices would be laughed out of the market. The
provision may be contracted out but never at a cost close to that of
delivering printed communications.
I would make two subjective additions to these observations:-
Peer review is likely to change. Individuals will put up publications,
they will be challenged, defended, perhaps modified and challenged
again. Journal publishers will either become part of this process from
the outset, or collect papers (we will still probably call them that,
just as we still refer to type leading) that have stood the test of the
CyberOnslaught for their recommended archives.
The success of on-line publications will depend on quality and
reputation. Currently there is so much dross on the net that people are
reading publications well outside of their field, just to see what is
happening. This will stabilise as more publications come on-line. The
first to get there, with quality productions, will establish an
internet reputation, get themselves into reader's virtual bookmarks and
fill the CyberNiche. The scramble for the PostGutenberg Galaxy is now on
- I'm tipping well organised publishing houses and universities, that
have equipped themselves to conquer the wires, as the new colonialists.
School of Oriental and African Studies
University of London
London WC1H OXG
Tel: (071) 323 6117
Fax: (071) 436 3844
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Tue Feb 13 2001 - 16:24:07 GMT