Name(s): Stevan Harnad
Affiliation(s): University of Southampton
E-mail address(es): har...@mail.soton.ac.uk
Postal address(es): Department of Psychology and Cognitive Sciences Centre
Title of presentation: PUBLICLY RETRIEVABLE FTP ARCHIVES FOR ESOTERIC SCIENCE
AND SCHOLARSHIP: A SUBVERSIVE PROPOSAL
We have heard many predictions about the demise of paper publishing,
but life is short and the inevitable day still seems a long way off.
This is a subversive proposal that could radically hasten that day. It
is applicable only to ESOTERIC (non-trade, no-market) scientific and
scholarly publication (but that is the lion's share of the academic
corpus anyway), namely, that body of work for which the author does not
and never has expected to SELL his words. He wants only to PUBLISH
them, that is, to reach the eyes of his peers, his fellow esoteric
scientists and scholars the world over, so that they can build on one
another's work in that collaborative enterprise called learned inquiry.
For centuries, it was only out of reluctant necessity that authors of
esoteric publications made the Faustian bargain to allow a price-tag to
be erected as a barrier between their work and its (tiny) intended
readership because that was the only way to make their work public in
the era when paper publication (and its substantial real expenses) were
the only way to do so. But today there is another way, and that is
PUBLIC FTP: If every esoteric author in the world this very day
established a globally accessible local ftp archive for every piece of
esoteric writing he did from this day forward, the long-heralded
transition from paper publication to purely electronic publication (of
esoteric research) would follow suit almost immediately. The only two
factors blocking it at the moment are (1) quality control (i.e., peer
review and editing), which happen to be implemented today almost
exclusively by paper publishers and (2) the patina of paper publishing,
which results from this monopoly on quality control. If all scholars'
preprints were universally available to all scholars by anonymous ftp
(and gopher, and World-wide web, and the search/retrieval wonders of
the future), NO scholar would ever consent to WITHDRAW that preprint
from the public eye after the refereed version was accepted for paper
"PUBLICation." Instead, everyone would, quite naturally, substitute the
refereed, published reprint for the unrefereed preprint. Paper
publishers will then either restructure themselves (with the
cooperation of the scholarly community) so as to arrange for the
minimal true costs and a fair return on electronic-only page costs
(which I estimate to be less than 25% of paper-page costs, contrary to
the 75% figure that appears in most current publishers' estimates) to
be paid out of advance subsidies (from authors' page charges, learned
society dues, university publication budgets and/or governmental
publication subsidies) or they will have to watch as the peer community
spawns a brand new generation of electronic-only publishers who will.
The subversion will be complete, because the (esoteric -- no-market)
literature will have taken to the airwaves, where it always belonged,
and those airwaves will be free (to the benefit of us all) because
their true minimal expenses will be covered the optimal way for the
unimpeded flow of esoteric knowledge to all: In advance.
Biographical sketch (5-15 lines):
Stevan Harnad, Professor of Psychology and Director of the Cognitive
Sciences Centre at University of Southampton UK, was born in Budapest,
Hungary, grew up in Montreal, Canada, did his undergraduate work at
McGill University and his Doctorate at Princeton University (in
cognitive psychology). His research is on categorization and neural
networks and on perception, cognition and language in general, on which
he has written numerous articles and edited and contributed to several
books. A further interest is "Scholarly Skywriting," a form of
interactive electronic publication and communication that he has been
actively involved in exploring and developing, and on which he has
written several articles. He is Founder and Editor of two refereed
journals, Behavioral and Brain Sciences and PSYCOLOQUY, the first paper
(published by Cambridge University Press since 1978) and the second
electronic (sponsored by the American Psychological Association since 1990).
The following files are retrievable from directory pub/harnad/Harnad on
host princeton.edu (citation is followed by FILENAME and, where
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).
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 A. L. Okerson (ed.) Directory of
Electronic Journals, Newsletters, and Academic Discussion Lists, 2nd
edition. Washington, DC, Association of Research Libraries, Office of
Scientific & Academic Publishing, 1992).
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.
Harnad, S. (1994) Implementing Peer Review on the Net:
Scientific Quality Control in Scholarly Electronic Journals. Proceedings
of International Conference on Refereed Electronic Journals: Towards
a Consortium for Networked Publications. University of Manitoba,
Winnipeg 1-2 October 1993 (in press)
ABSTRACT: Electronic networks have made it possible for scholarly
periodical publishing to shift from a trade model, in which the author
sells his words through the mediation of the expensive and inefficient
technology of paper, to a collaborative model, in which the much lower
real costs and much broader reach of purely electronic publication are
subsidized in advance, by universities, libraries, and the scholarly
societies in each specialty. To take advantage of this, paper
publishing's traditional quality control mechanism, peer review, will
have to be implemented on the Net, thereby recreating the hierarchies
of journals that allow authors, readers, and promotion committees to
calibrate their judgments rationally -- or as rationally as traditional
peer review ever allowed them to do it. The Net also offers the
possibility of implementing peer review more efficiently and equitably,
and of supplementing it with what is the Net's real revolutionary
dimension: interactive publication in the form of open peer commentary
on published work. Most of this "scholarly skywriting" likewise needs
to be constrained by peer review, but there is room on the Net for
unrefereed discussion too, both in high-level peer discussion forums to
which only qualified specialists in a given field have read/write
access and in the general electronic vanity press.
Hayes, P., Harnad, S., Perlis, D. & Block, N. (1992) Virtual Symposium
on the Virtual Mind. Minds and Machines 2(3) 217-238.
ABSTRACT: When certain formal symbol systems (e.g., computer programs)
are implemented as dynamic physical symbol systems (e.g., when they are
run on a computer) their activity can be interpreted at higher levels
(e.g., binary code can be interpreted as LISP, LISP code can be
interpreted as English, and English can be interpreted as a meaningful
conversation). These higher levels of interpretability are called
"virtual" systems. If such a virtual system is interpretable as if it
had a mind, is such a "virtual mind" real? This is the question
addressed in this "virtual" symposium, originally conducted
electronically among four cognitive scientists: Donald Perlis, a
computer scientist, argues that according to the computationalist
thesis, virtual minds are real and hence Searle's Chinese Room Argument
fails, because if Searle memorized and executed a program that could
pass the Turing Test in Chinese he would have a second, virtual,
Chinese-understanding mind of which he was unaware (as in multiple
personality). Stevan Harnad, a psychologist, argues that Searle's
Argument is valid, virtual minds are just hermeneutic
overinterpretations, and symbols must be grounded in the real world of
objects, not just the virtual world of interpretations. Computer
scientist Patrick Hayes argues that Searle's Argument fails, but
because Searle does not really implement the program: A real
implementation must not be homuncular but mindless and mechanical, like
a computer. Only then can it give rise to a mind at the virtual level.
Philosopher Ned Block suggests that there is no reason a mindful
implementation would not be a real one.
Re below, by all means post to a wide list of interested parties. I'd
sincerely love to discover someone/somehow to reduce journal production
costs so that a majority of our expenses were printing/paper-distribution.
> From: lr...@acs.org (Lorrin Garson)
> Date: Mon, 27 Jun 94 19:51:40 EDT
> Regarding the phrase "(which I estimate to be less than 25% of paper-page
> costs, contrary to the 75% figure that appears in most current publishers'
> estimates)" from your proposal below, do you mean that printing costs are 75%
> of the total publishing costs? If so, I can assure you this is certainly
> incorrect in scientific/technical publishing. Our experience at the American
> Chemical Society is that printing and paper costs are about 15% of total
> manufacturing costs and the "first copy", or prepress costs are about 85% of
> the total. Could you clarify what you mean? I'd be very interested on what
> basis you make your financial estimates.
> Lorrin R. Garson
Yes, in fact, the data you have often presented were among the ones I
had in mind when I challenged the 75% figure (though many other
publishers have come up with figures similar to yours 70-85%).
I challenge it on two bases, and they are these:
(1) The calculation according to which the "per-page" savings would be
only 25%, leaving 75% still to be paid for is based on how much
electronic processing will save in PAPER publication. The entire
superstructure is set up to hurtle headlong toward print on paper, so
if you recalculate that budget and leave out the print-run and a few
other things, you find you're left with 75% of the original expenses.
Solution? Exorcise everything having to do with going into paper, from
the bottom up. Budget an electronic-ONLY journal, and the per-page cost
will come out much, much lower (if anything, my 25% is an
To put it another way: Your way of doing the figures is rather like
challenging the advantages of automobiles by calculating how much
they would save on horse-feed.
(2) But, if that is not enough, I also speak from experience: I edit
both a paper and an electronic journal. Although the two are not
entirely comparable, and the paper one undeniably still has a much
larger submission rate and annual page count, the true costs of the
electronic one are an order of magnitude lower even making allowances for
this. And this is not because anyone is working for free, or because
the Net is giving the journal a free ride (it gives -- as I delight in
showing audiences in (numerical) figures -- an incomparably bigger free
ride to porno-graphics, flaming, and trivial pursuit, and THAT is much
riper for being put onto a trade model than esoteric scholarly
publication, the flea on the tail of the dog, which I believe we would
all benefit from granting a free ride on the airwaves in perpetuum).
If we charged PSYCOLOQUY's readership (now estimated at 40,000) their
share of the true costs, they would have to pay 25 cents per year (down
from 50% a couple of years ago, as the readership grew and costs
actually shrank; and thanks in part also to centralized subscriber-list
handling at EARN, much of it automatized, as well as to developments
such as gopher and world-wide-web, which are rapidly replacing the
subscriber model by the browser model altogether in electronic publication).
PSYCOLOQUY is subsidized by the APA, which is also a large psychology
paper publisher. I don't know what proportion of the APA's or ACS's
publications are esoteric: I am NOT speaking about publications on
which the author expects to make money from the sale of his text. But
for that no-market portion of the literature, re-do your figures with
the endpoint being a URL file in WWW for all those published articles.
Reckon only the true costs of implementing peer review, processing
manuscripts (electronically), editing, copy-editing, proof-reading,
etc., and then finally electronic archiving and maintenance. I predict
that you will be surprised by the outcome; but this cannot be reckoned
by striking a few items from the ledger based on how you do things
Best wishes, Stevan
Editor, Behavioral & Brain Sciences, PSYCOLOQUY
Cognitive Science Laboratory
221 Nassau Street
Princeton NJ 08544-2093
> Date: Tue, 28 Jun 1994 16:28:49 +0100
> From: "Paul F. Burton" <pa...@dis.strath.ac.uk>
> Subject: Re: Subversive Proposal
> A note to thank you for the notice of your "subversive proposal", but why
> be subversive about it? I've suggested at two conferences this year that
> universities should take back the electronic publication of work done by
> their staff (most of it research carried out with public funds), though I
> have not been as direct as your proposal :-). My personal view is that
> commercial publishers are running scared of electronic publishing, which is
> why they seem to be involved in so many projects.
> It seems to me that this is an idea whose time has just arrived. Do you
> think that the Follett Report proposals could include a feasibility study
> of this? I'd be interested in discussing the idea further with you, if you
> have time.
> BTW, I seem to have two addresses for you (Southampton and Princeton) so
> I'm sending this to both, as I'd value your comments.
It is indeed a subversive proposal, and here's why: Many of us already
share the DESIRE for electronic publication in place of paper; the
question is, How to get there from here? Life is short. The subversion
is in not trying to do it directly, by taking on the all-powerful paper
flotilla head-on. Forget about electronic publishing. Leave the
"publishing" to them. Simply archive your PREprints (on which you have
not ceded copyright to anyone) in a public ftp archive. Let EVERYONE
(or a critical mass) do that. And then nature will take its course.
(Everyone will, quite naturally, swap the reprint for the preprint at
the moment of acceptance for publication, and before paper publishers
can mobilize to do anything about it, the battle will be lost, and they
will be faced with an ultimatum: either re-tool NOW, so that you
recover your real costs and a fair return by some means other than
interposing a price-tag between [esoteric, no-market] papers and their
intended readership, or others will step in and do it instead of you.)
This IS subversive. Direct appeals (whether to authors or to
publishers) to "publish electronically" are not subversive; they have
simply proven hopelessly slow. And at this rate (esoteric) paper
publishers will be able to successfully prolong the status quo for well
into the forseeable future -- to the eternal disadvantage of learned
inquiry itself, which is the one that has been suffering most from this
absurd Faustian bargain for the centuries that paper was the esoteric
author's only existing expedient for PUBLICation at all.
Paper publishers, by the way, are, quite understandably, looking for
much less radical solutions. These compromises are mostly in the
category of "hybrid" publication (paper and electronic), and they share
the fatal flaw of (esoteric -- remember, I am speaking only of
esoteric, non-trade, no-market) paper publication: requiring a price for
admission to a show that has virtually no audience, yet is essential
to us all!
I have no animus against paper publishers. It's natural for them to do
whatever they can to preserve the status quo, or something close to
it. But necessity is the mother of invention, and my subversive
proposal would awaken their creative survival skills. And if they wish
to survive (in esoteric publication -- I cannot repeat this often
enough: what I am proposing is NOT applicable to literature that
actually has a market, one in which the author really has hopes of
selling his words, and a market is interested in buying them, for there
there is no Faustian pact; it is in the interests of BOTH parties,
author and publisher, to charge admission at the door -- if, as I say,
publishers wish to survive in ESOTERIC publication, they will have to
change from a trade to a subsidy model for recovering the substantially
lower true costs of electronic-ONLY publication).
My claim that the true per-page cost of electronic publication will be
25% of current per-page paper costs rather than the 75% that has been quoted
over and over, has been challenged (by Lorrin Garson of the American
Chemical Society) and I have attempted to support my estimate above.
We can discuss this any time (we ARE doing so right now). I'm at
Princeton till end of August, then at Southampton. Both email addresses
will continue to reach me.
While I fully agree with Stevan Harnad's intention, I must differ a little
on the question of how to get there.
Stevan is quite right in saying that the entire superstructure
is set up to hurtle headlong toward print on paper. He suggests
we should 'exorcise" everything having to do with going into paper.
In inciting us to do this thought experiment, Stevan achieves an
important result which is to give us a way to free ourselves from
frames of reference that have been present for so long that they
have become completely naturalized. To see beyond those and to
think "autrement", in a different manner is truly the fundamental
This said, this is not the only stake. Another problem is to find the
way to reach the vision through the contingent, material, historical,
social, concrete (the choice of the right adjective is anyone's choice)
situation in which we are located now.
Right now, the research system works in an extremely complex manner where
pecking orders, legitimacy, memory building through proper archiving
and bibliographic efforts and even communication :-) takes place.
This is the given and we must start from there while, simultaneously
conjuring up the right vision for the future. In short we must simultaneously
have the right vision of the present and the right vision of the future to
have a chance to chart the right course between now and the future.
The word "right" occurs three times in this sentence and it points to
the fundamental difficulty of the task. In fact it is daunting, but
it should not discourage us.
Personally, my answer to the first right is: look at the best literature on
the history and sociology of research to see how it has been built and
how it works. here the fundamental references are the works from the
Merton school, including Diana Crane's study of invisible colleges and
its quantified extensions through Derek Price's works and the ISI
people (Henry Small's work on clusters is important here, for example).
More recently, social constructivists, ethnomethodologists and other
approaches (such as Bourdieu's workk) have enriched our vision of the
present and allow us to understand that the research system is an
immensely complex juggernaut that will not be modified easily.
As for the second "right", I believe this is where Stevan's ability to
articulate a future for academic publishing of research comes into
its own. He has a great ability to see beyond our normal horizons
and we should heed his voice as he recounts what he has seen. But then
comes the third, most important question: how to get there?
Good old Hegel has taugh us that the new could come out of the old
only if it incorporated enough of the old itself to allow its very
emergence. In other words, moving to the future will require incorporating
some of th eold, and in the case of e-publishing, this means incorporating
some role for paper.
I know that by saying this, I will provoke my impatient friends who
would like to move on directly to the future. But let me remind them
that human beings hopefully will remain part of the future equation,
for, if this is not the case, we will end up in utopia, not in reality.
Utopia has its functions, but they have to be delineated carefully
whe it comes to implementing policies or strategies.
Human beings will have to read for a long time and the act of reading
is not uniform. One of the pitfalls of print is precisely that it has
taught us to treat all information as if it was read in a uniform manner
by providing us with a "maximalist" solution. Definition of print on paper
is generally excellent so that information can be studied, mulled over,
commented upon and so on. However, we do not always want to engage into
reading in this fashion. Browsing, getting a feel for, looking for
specific tidbits of information are some of the many ways in which
we may wish to engage ourselves with regard to information.
With the advent of digitized information and its default materialization
as screen display, we have become aware that the default presentation
was not always the best for all we wanted to do, particularly studying.
As a result, we transfer the digitized information to paper to do this.
On the other hand, to search for information, for easy quoting, and a for
large number of tasks, we keep the infotion in its digital form and
we materialize it in an ephemereal, non-material fashion (if materializing
in a non-material manner makes any sense at all :-). But one basic fact
remains: for the moment, the research system cannot avoid using paper
on some occasions and denying this deprives electronic publishing of
a very basic foundation that will allow it to take off in a fruitful
As a result, and to go back to the initial question, it is probably better
to calculate the cost as indicated above by Lorrin Garson. In effect, let
us take the worst possible case and see what we can do with it.
The question I would like to raise with regard to academic publishing is the
following. Let us look at the macro picture, independently of countries
and the like. let us look at the whole world system of research publication
and let us define two categories of financing to see how thay fit.
On the one hand, let us call "public money" all sources of financing that
come out of governmental, institutional sources, including foundations
and even private donations. Let us call "private money", money coming out
of the pocket of individuals who actually buy learned journals. I do mean
In the production of learned journals, even without calculating of producing
the research results themselves, public money is always involved, either
implicitly or explicitly. Journals receive support from a variety of sources,
be they those of a university, a department, a faculty, a professional
association, a governmental agency, a foundation, a gift converted into
endowment, etc. Faculty members that take care of journals may receive
help in kind (secretarial, telephone use, whatever) and my have their teaching
load reduced (thus forcing the hiring of another professor or teaching
assistant). Etc. etc... All this is well known and it would be interesting
to have statistical figures about this situation.
But public money is also involved at the other end of the cycle. Libraries
that buy journals, do it with institutional funds that eith come from
the private revenues of a private university, for example, or the grants
givent by a government to a public university (supplemented by the tuition
fees of students).
What would be interesting to look at is the the part of this hidden public
money in the revenues of learned journals. This becomes all the more
interesting that libraries generally pay a much higher subscription rate
than individuals, so that, even though they may a minority in the number
of subscribers, they may still represent an important fraction of the
revenues for a learned journal. If journal editors were kind enough
to supply me with some figures in this regard, i would be delighted to
summarize the results for the net.
Now, going back to the economics of printed journals: what has to be
taken into consideration is everything beyond copy editing, including
postage to mail the issues out, of course (this is an important source
of expense for journals, and it shows in the fact that subscription
rates vary with country of destination).
If the cost of everything beyond copy editing is greater than the revenues
from individuals, this means that moving to electronic publishing would
allow putting all the published results of the research system at the
disposal of the whole world FREELY.
Why don't we do it?
For a number of reasons that are the very points on which we must
work to map out a viable strategy aiming at changing the situation.
1. The treatment of learned journals as commodities is deeply embedded
within institutions and mentalities to the point that granting agencies
use sale figures as legitimate criteria to evaluate whether they support
a given journal or not.
2. The economic analysis I have provided, based as it is on a concept
of public money that is not usually present in accounting practices,
makes sense only if producers of journals and archivers of journals
work hand in hand. In other words, this economic analysis makes sense
if and only if publishers (whatever their nstitutional nature) and
librarians work hand in hand, which is not the case at present.
Yet ARL and AAUP do have a common meeting each year, thus showing
that they have overlapping concerns. The advent of digitized information
will hasten this convergence, as it does in other quarters of activity.
3. Journal editors and publishers are often loath to relinquish detailed,
standardized budgetary figures as these might lead to uncomfortable
comparisons having to do with the local efficiency of a given operation.
However, granting agencies do have figures on large enough a scale
to provide for some statistical support or rebuttal of what is advanced here.
So I call upon them to do this work which, incidentally, can be done
without releasing particular names of journals.
This analysis, if correct, would show that e-publishing may well be already
viable, even with the worst-case scenario of savings limited to 25% of
production and distribution costs. Even finding that this argument is
not correct would be interesting in itself, even though it would force
me to go back to the drawing board. :-) But such is life...
Do send the figures you know or the bibliographic references that would
provide interesting figures in this regard and I will summarize and
synthesize for the whole list.
> To put it another way: Your way of doing the figures is rather like
> challenging the advantages of automobiles by calculating how much
> they would save on horse-feed.
The analogy is amusing, but not quite accurate as, I have pointed out
above, we cannot yet dispense with paper. Electornic publishing is,
in part, delegating printing (where needed) to the reader.
> (2) But, if that is not enough, I also speak from experience: I edit
> both a paper and an electronic journal. Although the two are not
> entirely comparable, and the paper one undeniably still has a much
> larger submission rate and annual page count, the true costs of the
> electronic one are an order of magnitude lower even making allowances for
> this. And this is not because anyone is working for free, or because
> the Net is giving the journal a free ride (it gives -- as I delight in
> showing audiences in (numerical) figures -- an incomparably bigger free
> ride to porno-graphics, flaming, and trivial pursuit, and THAT is much
> riper for being put onto a trade model than esoteric scholarly
> publication, the flea on the tail of the dog, which I believe we would
> all benefit from granting a free ride on the airwaves in perpetuum).
Stevan raises another issue here, one that has to do with the future
economic structure of the net. The Minitel model may be useful here.
Let porn circulate at high cost through services that will bill their
users accordingly. Let the research results that are published circulate
freely. This is important for another reason: for the first time in the
history of humanity, poor countries would have as good an access to
academic publications as rich countries and they could also promote
their own work on a wider scale, thus helping make their own publishing
centers climb up the pecking order scale in relationship with the
intrinsic intellectual value of the authors they print, rather than
according to their economic clout. This is after all part of the secret of the
prestigious journals of the large private publishing houses in Holland and
elsewhere. Have a good marketing arm, buy up a prestigious editorial
board in one way or another, show yourself as being extremely selective
in your authors and you can't miss. Except that, nowadays, libraries
know how much they pay for subscriptions to those journals...
> PSYCOLOQUY is subsidized by the APA, which is also a large psychology
> paper publisher. I don't know what proportion of the APA's or ACS's
> publications are esoteric: I am NOT speaking about publications on
> which the author expects to make money from the sale of his text. But
> for that no-market portion of the literature, re-do your figures with
> the endpoint being a URL file in WWW for all those published articles.
> Reckon only the true costs of implementing peer review, processing
> manuscripts (electronically), editing, copy-editing, proof-reading,
> etc., and then finally electronic archiving and maintenance. I predict
> that you will be surprised by the outcome; but this cannot be reckoned
> by striking a few items from the ledger based on how you do things
This is something where we also need hard figures. Any volunteer?
Stevan's question is crucial.
> > From: "Paul F. Burton" <pa...@dis.strath.ac.uk>
> > Subject: Re: Subversive Proposal
> > A note to thank you for the notice of your "subversive proposal", but why
> > be subversive about it? I've suggested at two conferences this year that
> > universities should take back the electronic publication of work done by
> > their staff (most of it research carried out with public funds), though I
> > have not been as direct as your proposal :-). My personal view is that
> > commercial publishers are running scared of electronic publishing, which is
> > why they seem to be involved in so many projects.
I agree with Paul Burton's basic proposal that research centers (including
universities, of course) should take back the elctronic publication
of work done (but not only by their staff, as this does not enhance
legitimacy, quite the contrary). In fact, this is where libraries of
the future have work to do. They could say: before we archive research results,
we will have them peer-reviewed. Archiving, of course, means placing a pointer
to a file somewhere. The library does not have to store the file locally,
even though it may choose to do so for reasons having to do with bandwidth.
Placing a legitimized (and legitimizing) pointer to a file and having it
retrievable through a variety of search engines (such as a library-supervised
WAIS system) is tantamount to placing an official seal of approval of some
piece of research and this is what being published has also meant for quite
some time now. I am with you, Paul, but extend the modal a little bit.
> > It seems to me that this is an idea whose time has just arrived. Do you
> > think that the Follett Report proposals could include a feasibility study
> > of this? I'd be interested in discussing the idea further with you, if you
> > have time.
What are the Follett Report proposals? Please clue me in on that one.
> It is indeed a subversive proposal, and here's why: Many of us already
> share the DESIRE for electronic publication in place of paper; the
> question is, How to get there from here? Life is short. The subversion
> is in not trying to do it directly, by taking on the all-powerful paper
> flotilla head-on. Forget about electronic publishing. Leave the
> "publishing" to them. Simply archive your PREprints (on which you have
> not ceded copyright to anyone) in a public ftp archive. Let EVERYONE
> (or a critical mass) do that. And then nature will take its course.
This is where I disagree somewhat. Preprints already circulate a lot
among the people that count. In other words, Stevan Harnad, to take you
as an example, sends preprints to all the colleagues that count.
Putting the same preprint in some ftp site would not help reach that
many more people, first because you know your own invisible college
pretty well, second, because archie is not sufficient to retrieve these
publications efficiently. Unless someone sets up a universal preprint system
with full WAIS capability or soemthing equivalent, these pre-prints
will remain scattered as bits of dust and will never coalesce to create
a viable informational mass. But I am quite willing to let myself convince
on that one.
> (Everyone will, quite naturally, swap the reprint for the preprint at
> the moment of acceptance for publication, and before paper publishers
> can mobilize to do anything about it, the battle will be lost, and they
> will be faced with an ultimatum: either re-tool NOW, so that you
> recover your real costs and a fair return by some means other than
> interposing a price-tag between [esoteric, no-market] papers and their
> intended readership, or others will step in and do it instead of you.)
If you are right, the re-tooling option is not even viable unless paper
publishers find a way to add value to the preprints that has not already
been added by already organized search engines.
> This IS subversive. Direct appeals (whether to authors or to
> publishers) to "publish electronically" are not subversive; they have
> simply proven hopelessly slow. And at this rate (esoteric) paper
> publishers will be able to successfully prolong the status quo for well
> into the forseeable future -- to the eternal disadvantage of learned
> inquiry itself, which is the one that has been suffering most from this
> absurd Faustian bargain for the centuries that paper was the esoteric
> author's only existing expedient for PUBLICation at all.
I am not as pessimistic as you on that score. Things are moving slowly
at present, to be sure, but in a kind of cloud gathering mode that will
soon unleash a real thunderstorm. Some threshold effect is at work here
and there are ways to make the threshold come faster than you seem to
think. Our best allies there are academics from the Third World.
> Paper publishers, by the way, are, quite understandably, looking for
> much less radical solutions. These compromises are mostly in the
> category of "hybrid" publication (paper and electronic), and they share
> the fatal flaw of (esoteric -- remember, I am speaking only of
> esoteric, non-trade, no-market) paper publication: requiring a price for
> admission to a show that has virtually no audience, yet is essential
> to us all!
You are right on that score
> I have no animus against paper publishers. It's natural for them to do
> whatever they can to preserve the status quo, or something close to
> it. But necessity is the mother of invention, and my subversive
> proposal would awaken their creative survival skills. And if they wish
> to survive (in esoteric publication -- I cannot repeat this often
> enough: what I am proposing is NOT applicable to literature that
> actually has a market, one in which the author really has hopes of
> selling his words, and a market is interested in buying them, for there
> there is no Faustian pact; it is in the interests of BOTH parties,
> author and publisher, to charge admission at the door -- if, as I say,
> publishers wish to survive in ESOTERIC publication, they will have to
> change from a trade to a subsidy model for recovering the substantially
> lower true costs of electronic-ONLY publication).
Jean-Claude Guedon Tel. 514-343-6208
Professeur titulaire Fax: 514-343-2211
Departement de litterature comparee Surfaces
Universite de Montreal Tel. 514-343-5683
C.P. 6128, Succursale "A" Fax. 514-343-5684
Montreal, Qc H3C 3J7 ftp ftp.umontreal.ca
Total costs, including advertising and supplies, have been
about $2,000 per year + network access costs (free, in my case)
+ an occasional purchase of computer hardware or software
+ whatever my time is worth. I've included the cost of
news sources (i.e., subscriptions and professional memberships)
in that $2,000; obviously one could pay much more -- even
millions, for a weekly such as Newsweek. Harnad's proposal
concerned esoteric publishing, which usually uses free material.
The peer review -- which I omit -- is also free, except for the
correspondence and "shepherding" expenses.
If you don't go after a large readership, there's no advertising
expense. If you don't edit authors' papers, there's very little
editing expense. If you use LISTSERV or MajorDomo, there's no
clerical expense. That's why most net services are free.
Unfortunately, the next level of quality requires at least
one paid professional. Money must be collected somehow, so either
sponsors must be courted or customers must be billed. Net commerce
isn't well developed yet, so billing and payment are major hassles.
Clerical help with the billing can add to the cost, so sponsorship
is usually the better option.
I've been advocating self-publication for several years now.
Stevan has always insisted on the need for peer review, whereas
I see it as optional. Peer review certainly adds an exciting
dynamic to his e-journals, and may help in satisfying sponsors.
Vanity publishing has entirely different benefits. I expect
that both will do well. What will not survive is redundant
publishing of slightly varying conference papers, journal articles,
and collected works with delays of 1-3 years. Publish or perish
has pushed academic publishing to the point of collapse, with
library budgets no longer able to archive everything that any
scientist wants to record for posterity. That function will now
fall to FTP publishing as Stevan suggests, or possibly to
CD ROM publishing of tech report archives. Hardcopy publication
will become more reader-driven (reader pulled?) instead of
author/sponsor-driven, and only the highest-quality collections
will appear in print. For those, editing and publishing costs
will remain high.
-- Ken Laws
>Good old Hegel has taugh us that the new could come out of the old
>only if it incorporated enough of the old itself to allow its very
>emergence. In other words, moving to the future will require incorporating
>some of the old, and in the case of e-publishing, this means incorporating
>some role for paper.
It is difficult to see, initially, what role paper would have in electronic
publishing. However, I believe the issue is not the role, but the
functionality provided by paper-based technology. Following on from Hegel's
ideas, any EP product requires some functionality of paper-based technology
to ensure that existing readers can continue to associate with the new
medium. This, in my mind, is a major contributor to the
'lost-in-hyperspace' syndrome associated with hypermedia. Readers do not
have access to the complex cognitive cues available in paper-based
technology, cues we are all taught about as part of our education. Looking
back to the early times after Gutenberg, the new movable-type technology
carried forward aspects of manuscript and scroll technology where
appropriate. This has to be the case for EP as well. Where appropriate, the
environment provided to the reader should utilise existing paradigms, but
the problem for the software builder becomes 'when to quit the
paradigm/metaphor because it has become inappropriate'.
One example of this similarity between paper-based and electronic
publishing is the issue of authoring and reading. Many tools on the market
today assume, implicitly, that reading is a subset of authoring. Hence, if
I provide you with the authoring tool, you will be able to read my
document. Simple analysis indicates the falacy of this assumption. Reading
and authoring share common aspects, but reading is not writing. Reading
requires different functions and hence a different tool. How many people
read large amounts of electronic information using microsoft word. It can
be done, I know, but it is not comfortable. For large amounts most of us
would still print it out, because we can associate more favourably with the
paper version that the microsoft word interface. This does not mean the the
Word interface is bad, just that it is inappropriate, it was writen for
writing, not reading.
Given, then the lack of standards for reading, how can we do what Steve
suggests, publish all our work electronically? One way is to develop
conventions for the source data and that is what the TEI innitiative has
been attempting in conjunction with the SGML standard. However, we need to
go further, we need conventions for the functionality of reading
Dr. Bob Jansen
Principal Research Scientist, Knowledge-Based Systems
CSIRO Division of Information Technology
Physical: Building E6B, Macquarie University Campus,
North Ryde NSW 2113, AUSTRALIA
Postal: Locked Bag 17, North Ryde NSW 2113, AUSTRALIA
Phone: +612 325 3100 Fax: +612 325 3101