I'd like to respond a little more to Jerry Thomas's comments on
electronic publishing as I do sympathize in part with what he
is saying. I'll break my post into two sections: The Present,
the Future? (this one) and Current Realities (next one)
For more fuel to the electronic publishing fire I'll quote a few lines
from an essay of my own I have mounted on the Web.
In the paper "Towards a New Renaissance Period in Science" (reference
I make the following comments:
"...Viewing current changes as revolutionary, our system has
possibly reached a phase transition; if we prefer an evolutionary
viewpoint perhaps we have reached a punctuated change in equilibrium
.... Our research groups will increasingly involve collaborations
that transcend boundaries traditionally raised between
individuals: scientists will work together on a routine or daily basis
whether they are in a university, industry or government lab, regardless
of their continent, culture, race or politics.
....We live in a world of increasing
connectionism. From this sea of distributed networks an infrastructure
for global communities and marketplaces is arising that transcends
previous limitations of time and place. Government departments,
institutions and companies will have to adjust and adapt to this
future. They will have to be more connected to other parts of
society, more permeable at their boundaries, more
lateral in their communications, less regulated and more flexible in
their procedures, less command-oriented and more receptive to
emergent bottom-up ideas, projects and innovation
....As we exchange opinions on current topics on the Net our cultures
merge, clash and intertwine; due to the power of the communication
possibilities of the Net it is very feasible for individuals to develop and
market their own services and products or to publish their own writings
or research. It is possible to bring together global communities to work
at achieving common goals, to create resources that improve the
quality of the environment for all members, to cooperate and work
towards common ends. We have unprecedented opportunity to
overcome fear and ignorance if this technology-based opportunity is
shared as broadly as possible in all corners of society.
....New Renaissance Science will move away from the command science model.
Increasingly there will be less of an emphasis of large groups following
the directions of a single senior scientist. Groups will be more flexible,
more amoebic, more dynamic. Students will have multiple mentors.
They will concurrently be members of numerous ongoing project
groups. They might have an art project that visually communicates the
aesthetics of their science research or a philosophy project which
explores its foundations and limitations with fuzzy thinking. They will
be more directly funded, more responsible for their own
decision-making and more tightly connected to Net-based
information resources. They will collaborate globally, form rapid-
action dovetailing work groups, improvise and test ideas on-the-fly,
publish and discuss their results almost instantaneously using
electronic conferencing and publishing procedures.
....The hype of the information age is transforming itself into the reality
for the computer user. It is becoming increasingly common for a
researcher to have the ability to convert a structure from a remote
database into manipulatable graphical images on a screen. Computer
simulation, information technology and electronic publishing
technology will converge into an era of interactive communication of a
type never before possible. Authors will become publishers, readers will
readily be able to swop roles with authors by interactively viewing data
from a research paper and starting their own simulated experiment, to
ask "what if?" questions about changes in experimental conditions or
model parameters, to add their contribution to the growing "live"
paper, to forward their own interpretation.
We cannot predict the future though! Some of the above is happening
in some circles on the Net and a 'Gold Rush' is on right now. But ...
Next, some thoughts on what we are ready for right now.
Barry J. Hardy
An Oxford_Attraction: http://alcyone.pcl.ox.ac.uk/people/barry.html