APA Interview

From: Stevan Harnad (harnad@ecs.soton.ac.uk)
Date: Tue Jul 25 1995 - 20:01:00 BST

> Date: Mon, 24 Jul 95 17:02:41 -0400
> From: "Kuhn, Brooke" <bck.apa@email.apa.org>
> Dear Dr. Harnad:
> Thank you for being willing to do an interview for "Psychological Science
> Agenda." I want to let you know up front that the article will be about
> 450 words, and we prefer not to edit for length. So, if you are able to
> present me with just the highlights that would be best. Also, wherever
> possible, please try to speak on hypertext in general.
> The questions are as follows:

In what follows, *anyword* means print in italics.

> 1) What is *Psycoloquy*?

*Psycoloquy* is a refereed electronic journal covering all areas of
Psychology and related fields (Neuroscience, Cognitive Science,
Behavioral Biology). It is now in Volume 6, having been in "virtual"
print since 1990, and hence is one of the first refereed scientific
electronic journals.

> 2) How is *Psycoloquy* different from other journals?

The first difference is that *Psycoloquy* is *purely electronic*; no paper
version is published. (Although anyone can, of course, print it out,
there is absolutely no reason to do so except if one is going somewhere
where neither a telephone line to connect with the Internet nor a
portable computer that can store the text is accessible -- and such
places are becoming increasingly rare for research psychologists, for
whom the journal is primarily intended.)

The second difference is that *Psycoloquy*, apart from publishing peer
reviewed target articles, also publishes *Open Peer Commentary* on those
articles. Modeled in this respect on *Behavioral and Brain Sciences*, the
paper journal I also edit, it is free of the time and space constraints
of paper journals, because commentary can be submitted at any time and
appears as soon as it has been reviewed, accepted and edited. I have
dubbed this open-ended, interactive process "Scholarly Skywriting."

The third difference is that *Psycoloquy*, thanks to generous sponsorship
from the APA since its inception, is available to everyone for *free*,
worldwide, 24 hours a day, in perpetuum. About 3500 "subscribers" elect
to receive *Psycoloquy* in the form of direct electronically mailed
articles (and commentaries and responses) on Listserv. About 40,000
more readers access it via Usenet, a free, global electronic service
that carries *Psycoloquy* (renamed *sci.psychology.journals.psycoloquy*),
a few other electronic journals, but mostly chat groups, over 4000 of
them, to tens of thousands of Universities and Institutions worldwide,
where anyone can tap into them for free, like at a library. But probably
the largest (and certainly the fastest growing) incarnation of
Psycoloquy is the permanent archive on the World Wide Web -- a
distributed global "library," densely interconnected by hypertext
"links" (that I will explain more below, when I discuss hypertext).
I have not counted how many "hits" the Web Archive receives daily, but
it will soon eclipse the other two forms of access.

The fourth difference is right now in the process of being created, again
thanks to an APA grant: *Psycoloquy* is being "hypertextified." More below.

> 3) How is *Psycoloquy* similar to other journals?

*Psycoloquy* is exactly like other peer-reviewed scholarly and
scientific journals in that it publishes original research and theory,
accepted work counts as a refereed publication, it is citable (and
being cited more and more), and it has permanently archived volumes
and article numbers -- though no issues: what's the point of putting
several unrelated articles together in an issue? Articles are published
as soon as they are accepted and edited. Psycoloquy also has no page
numbers: why pages, which are arbitrary units dictated by the
exigencies of paper? Instead, all paragraphs and sections, the natural
units of an article, are numbered, and passages can be quoted by
referring to section and paragraph number. Citation format is as with
other journals: author, year, title, journal, volume, but there the
resemblance stops, because the rest of the citation consists of the
"URL" (Universal Resource Locator), a standardized convention that
indicates where the article can be electronically retrieved. It is this
"electronic address" that is the magic behind hypertext, for if the
citation happens to appear in a hypertext document on-screen instead of
plain text on paper, it means all you have to do is click on the
citation itself (e.g., with a mouse) and the whole article that is
being cited will be retrieved, wherever in the world it happens to be
archived (the URL knows), and will appear on your screen alongside the
original one. And if that article cites yet another reference that you
would like to chase down, one more click and you have that too. Getting
the idea of hypertext? and of why, if the entire psychological
literature were interconnected in this way, researchers, practitioners
and students would be incalculably better off in accessing the
literature and using their finite waking hours?

> 4) APA gave you a grant to experiment with the use of hypertext in
> "Psycoloquy." How will this format enhance the usability of the
> journal?

Right now, *Psycoloquy* is plain text, even though it is electronic. It
can be reached through the World Wide Web, which is a hypertext network
linking all kinds of resources (not just journal texts), distributed all
over the world, at the click of a mouse. For the scientist (or student,
or practitioner browsing or systematically searching the literature), it
is not enough to be able to reach sites with resources. Texts themselves
must be interconnected. Imagine, for the sake of argument, that
"hypertext" itself is the topic you are interested in. So first you use
one of the powerful keyword searchers to find all the sites worldwide
that have documents on hypertext. The searcher returns a list, and you
can click on any one of the document names and it immediately retrieves
the document from wherever it happens to be (you need not know -- it
might be next door or around the world). You start to read the document,
and you see that it keeps citing one especially important source, by
Smith 1994, so you click on that, and it retrieves that paper for you as
well. You start to read it, and you run into the term "html" but you
have no idea what it means. So you click on that, and it immediately links
to a definition, which you read, then return to the prior document and
keep reading. And so it goes. In principle, anything and everything
could be reachable that way. What arms and legs had to scurry around for
hours, days, weeks, months to track down, hypertext links retrieve
instantly. Cognition has a certain tempo; there is a natural "speed of
thought." When you need a definition, or a reference, you need it now;
you can put down what you are reading and chase it, but you may well
lose your train of thought before you get to it, or you could go on
without any idea what html means and try to dope it out from context.
We're used to doing all that. But only in the hypertext era will we
realize how far from optimal all that was; how pathetically it slowed
down our speed and continuity of thought, and how drastically it cut
down on our potential productivity.

> 5) What makes it difficult, if it is difficult, to make this conversion
> into hypertext? In other words, why is it an experiment?

It is not difficult in principle. Reference and keyword links are
straightforward. Less obvious conceptual links can be provided by the
author, particularly once authors get accustomed to thinking the
hypertext way (it's a bit like preparing a powerful index for something
you've written -- it can include cross-links within the text, not just
links to other documents -- but it is much more creative and powerful
than mere indexing, because the links are not just inward-pointing, as
in a conventional index (indices will of course become hyperindices),
but also outward-pointing, so, in principle, the sky's the limit. An
author can place links at any point to any other document that he
judges relevant. But of course, like references and footnotes, the
links must not be too intrusive (or too tempting), so that a linear
discursive exposition can still be followed in a smooth uninterrupted
way. (There are hypertext-cowboys with 30-second attention spans who
think linear texts should be abandoned completely in favor of nonstop
hypertext-hopping, rather like TV channel-surfing; I am not one of
these cowboys; the links should be helpful but should not replace the
reading and writing of self-contained, coherent, sequential expository
text where appropriate -- hypertext is a supplement to plain text, not
a substitute for it.)

But the difficulty is not the temptation to hypersurf, it's that most of
the literature is not yet reachable because it is not electronic!
Psycoloquy links will be restricted to Psycoloquy itself, plus a few
sister electronic journals, plus a few reference sources and perhaps
some abstracting services (such as APA's PsycInfo, which has at least
digitized the citations and abstracts of the psychological literature).
Another difficulty is price barriers: Psycoloquy is free, but PsycInfo
is not: It won't be easy to put a price tag on a hyperhop. In fact, the
economics of the hyperworld is a complex question that it's probably
better that I not get into at this time. Let me just say that there
*are* ways to sort it all out in a way that will serve the best
interests of psychological researchers, who are my own primary
consituency, and preserve an important niche for publishers and their
own unique contribution to quality control.

> 6) In which fields has hypertext been used already, and how successful
> has it been?

It has been used experimentally to create hyper-textbooks. There is
already a journal called Hyperjournal, devoted to discussing the future
of Hypertext. And the World Wide Web itself is one of the most active
loci of hypertext development, because the whole world is its text,
and not just one or a few local documents. One highly successful use
has been for vendors of commercial products and services: An ad
describes your product on the Web, and a click lets you order it with
your credit card (and, if it is hypermedia-accessible -- text,
graphics, video, or audio -- the next click after your credit card
number gets you the product itself). This trade model will also be how
trade publications will be bought and sold in the future. But I for one
hope that the specialty research periodical literature, whose
individual articles have hardly any "market" at all, and whose authors
are only too happy to pay for reprints and for mailing them to
interested fellow-researchers, will manage to become free, on the
Psycoloquy model, with the much reduced costs of electronic-only
publishing (subsidized now by the APA) recovered instead from page
charges to the author's research grant or University. This will not be
possible, of course, until a critical mass of reputable, refereed
electronic journals exists on the Net, and authors, readers, promotion
committees and granting agencies are relying on them as they now rely on
the paper literature.

> 7) What do you see as the future of electronic journals?

It is a foregone conclusion that all journals will go electronic sooner
or later. I make no predictions about when, because we are up against
habits and human nature there. If we were rational creatures, we would
do it at once, this very minute...

There will be confusion in sorting out the economic models; I've
written about this. The APA is to be highly commended, and will receive
due credit once the history of this all is written, for having
had the foresight and commitment to its scientific mandate to
support *Psycoloquy* despite the eventual conflict of interest that
taking the electronic road surely entails for a large paper
learned-journal publisher. I am doing my best to scout out an amicable,
trauma-free transition. The situation in Physics is more advanced, but
may also be on a collision course, with the remarkable success of Paul
Ginsparg's ingenious and revolutionary Electronic Preprint Archive,
which now makes more than half of the world's current physics
literature available to everyone for free. 25,000 physicists worldwide
are currently accessing the archive 45,000 times a day, with 350 new
papers deposited per week. A very unstable point will soon be reached
as the free archive has its inevitable effect on subscription revenues.
Ginsparg's is a far more revolutionary project than mine; we all wait
with bated breath to see where it will lead: to a benign transition
into an all-electronic author-page-charge-financed refereed electronic
journal literature, free to all readers? To a protracted battle between
the paper publishers and cybernauts? Or to a period of chaos in the
literature, with "in press" articles no longer having any place to
appear, because their paper publisher has pulled out because of
insufficient paper revenue and unwillingness to scale down and
restructure into an electronic-only publisher?

> 8) How can one subscribe to "Psycoloquy"?

By sending the one-line email message to listserv@pucc.princeton.edu

sub psyc Yourfirstname Yourlastname

Better still, get someone to show you how to use the World Wide Web and
just browse Psycoloquy's archive every day, or week, or whenever you
would normally want to consult it on the pages of your library, clicking
on whichever title interest you.

The URLs are:


Five minutes of explanation from a seasoned surfer, and you're set to
hypershop till you are satiated...

> Thank you again. I will send you a copy of the article when it comes
> out.
> While formulating your responses, you might keep in mind that some of the
> readership may not be familiar with what "Psycoloquy" or hypertext IS.
> Accordingly, please explain at a basic level. Thus, if you elaborate at
> length anywhere, please elaborate on these two items in the beginning of
> the interview.
> Thank you.
> Sincerely,
> Brooke Kuhn
> Science Initiative Coordinator
> American Psychological Association

I've obviously over-run my word-limit. Cut as you see fit. I will even
append a bibliography, in case you do decide to give it the space it
probably deserves, in order to give a coherent account of what's going

Chrs, Stevan

    The following files are retrievable from directory
    pub/harnad/Harnad on host princeton.edu (citation is followed by
    FILENAME and, where available, ABSTRACT): (Ftp Instructions follow
    Index.) You can also retrieve them by gopher or WWW:


Garfield, E. (1991) Electronic journals and skywriting: A complementary
medium for scientific communication? Current Contents 45: 9-11,
November 11 1991

Ginsparg, P. (1994) First Steps Towards Electronic Research
Communication. Computers in Physics. (August, American Institute of
Physics). 8(4): 390-396. http://xxx.lanl.gov/blurb/

Harnad, S. (1990) Scholarly Skywriting and the Prepublication Continuum
of Scientific Inquiry. Psychological Science 1: 342 - 343 (reprinted in
Current Contents 45: 9-13, November 11 1991).
FILENAME: harnad90.skywriting

Harnad, S. (1991) Post-Gutenberg Galaxy: The Fourth Revolution in the
Means of Production of Knowledge. Public-Access Computer Systems Review
2 (1): 39 - 53 (also reprinted in PACS Annual Review Volume 2 1992; and
in R. D. Mason (ed.) Computer Conferencing: The Last Word. Beach Holme
Publishers, 1992; and in: M. Strangelove & D. Kovacs: Directory of
Electronic Journals, Newsletters, and Academic Discussion Lists (A.
Okerson, ed), 2nd edition. Washington, DC, Association of Research
Libraries, Office of Scientific & Academic Publishing, 1992); and
in Hungarian translation in REPLIKA 1994.
FILENAME: harnad91.postgutenberg

Harnad, S. (1992) Interactive Publication: Extending the
American Physical Society's Discipline-Specific Model for Electronic
Publishing. Serials Review, Special Issue on Economics Models for
Electronic Publishing, pp. 58 - 61.
FILENAME: harnad92.interactivpub

Harnad, S. (1995) Universal FTP Archives for Esoteric Science and
Scholarship: A Subversive Proposal. In: Ann Okerson & James O'Donnell
(Eds.) Scholarly Journals at the Crossroads; A Subversive Proposal for
Electronic Publishing. Washington, DC., Association of Research
Libraries, June 1995.
DIRECTORY: pub/harnad/Psycoloquy/Subversive.Proposal/

Harnad, S. (1995) Electronic Scholarly Publication: Quo Vadis?
Serials Review 21(1) 70-72
FILENAME: harnad95.quo.vadis

Harnad, S. (1995) Implementing Peer Review on the Net:
Scientific Quality Control in Scholarly Electronic Journals. In:
Peek, R. & Newby, G. (Eds.) Electronic Publishing Confronts Academia:
The Agenda for the Year 2000. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.
FILENAME: harnad95.peer.review

Harnad, S. (1995) The PostGutenberg Galaxy: How To Get There From Here.
Times Higher Education Supplement. Multimedia. P. vi. May 12 1995

Odlyzko, A.M. (1995) Tragic loss or good riddance? The impending
demise of traditional scholarly journals, International Journal of
Human-Computer Studies (formerly International Journal of Man-Machine
Studies), 42 (1995), 71-122. Condensed version in Notices of the
Amercan Mathematical Society, 42 (Jan. 1995), 49-53. Available at URL

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Tue Feb 13 2001 - 16:24:08 GMT