An image of the briSKet(Please be aware, this article was posted on April 1st)

Move over iPad.  The Scholarly Kitchen will soon be offering its very own e-tablet.

The briSKet, or binary roaming integrated Scholarly Kitchen electronic tablet, is a purpose-built device, designed to support all of your scholarly publishing needs. The Scholarly Kitchen‘s business development team has spent the better part of the last year designing the device and its array of scholarly functions and applications. These include:

Article Accelerator – We understand the pressures of the publish or perish culture of science and academia. Article Accelerator is designed to help by reducing the amount of time it requires you to write a paper, thereby accelerating your scholarly output.

How does it do this?

By using time-honored techniques of automation. There are publishers who will accept absolutely anything sent to them, up to and including nonsensical articles. Why do all the work of writing an entire paper yourself when you know your peer-reviewers will never read it? Article Accelerator allows you to set the threshold for automation in your article. On “full automation,” it will generate an article for you on the subject of your choice. Our “figure and table” setting will allow you to focus your time and energy on writing the text of your article, leaving time-consuming data collection and analysis to our software.  Once completed, just press “submit,” and your article will instantly be delivered to the journal of your choice. Article Accelerator is fully integrated with the OAapp, which comes pre-loaded on all briSKets

Snackus Xpress – Just like with the Web-based Snackus, Snackus Xpress allows you to search or browse Elsevier’s entire portfolio of baked goods if your institution participates in the just-announced Baking for Access program. With the briSKet’s native GPS capabilities, your order will be delivered to wherever you happen to be—your lab or office, the library, your conference hotel, or even directly to the field.

Last month, a team of geologists—trapped for nearly two weeks by ice melt and angry polar bears during an expedition to northern Greenland—credited their survival to Snackus Xpress. “One of our team members was selected as a beta tester for the briSKet, so we were quite fortunate to have one with us,” recalled expedition leader David Phillips. “After conducting a Google Topeka search with the briSKet to see if it was possible to fend off hungry polar bears with a tent pole, a laser pointer, and a portable espresso maker, we noticed the Snackus Xpress app and decided to give it a try. A few hours later an Elsevier corporate jet air-dropped a half-ton of assorted pastries and a large thermal canister of coffee—an order that our team duplicated every morning for the next 10 days. Our librarians were really busy baking, that’s for sure!”

The coffee fended off hypothermia and the pastries largely distracted the bears until rescue arrived. “We only lost two expedition members to the bears,” said Phillips, “and that was only because we ran out of pineapple cream pie, which the bears particularly favored.”

Comment-o-Matic – One of the challenges created by the Web and its sundry online publications and discussion forums is making time to rebut the specious arguments and misguided notions of your colleagues. The briSKet’s new Comment-o-Matic not only scans the Internet to find offensive comments (or even tepid praise) linked to your unassailable prose, but uses a proprietary database developed in conjunction with Don Rickles, Karl Rove, and Stephen Colbert to create withering automated insults and post them in response, all the while attributing the sparkling retorts to you. (Note: This feature will require an annual subscription fee, yet to be determined.)

Since its inception, The Scholarly Kitchen has been an openly accessible publication. We continue to embrace OA through our release of the briSKet.  “We wanted to ensure the briSKet is available to as many people as possible,” noted Andrew Kent, head of product development for the Scholarly Kitchen. “So we decided to pioneer a new business model. We call it ‘users pay.’ Users can simply write us a check or use a credit card and a few days later they will receive a briSKet in the mail. It is that revolutionary.”

Some (notably those in the Scholarly Kitchen’s finance department) have questioned the need for a dedicated scholarly device. “Why not simply develop scholarly applications for general purpose electronic tablets, such as the iPad?” asked Vance Stewart, Scholarly Kitchen finance director, in exasperation one day in the midst of budgeting last summer. To Stewart’s dismay, there are a number of reasons for this:

Chrome Alloy Housing – While the aluminum case of the iPad is indeed rugged and will likely resist most of the hazards encountered by ordinary users, the Scholarly Kitchen’s product testing department quickly realized it would not suffice for scholarly use. “Do you realize how many laboratories use lasers these days?” asked Ann Howard, head of product testing. “A high-power laboratory laser will cut through that aluminum shell in seconds. Sure, it may be fine for Dan Brown readers, but can you imagine an optical scientist or particle beam physicist worth his salt buying one?” The briSKet by contrast is sheathed in a highly reflective chrome alloy that can deflect even the most powerful of lasers. “We also discovered that it can be used effectively for signaling a plane from the icy ground of an Arctic wasteland,” said Howard. “Future models of the briSKet will also feature a bear-repelling aerosol spray.”

Kona Blend Gaskets – After lasers, the second most common scholarly hazard is coffee. It is the primary fuel of the academic enterprise and, as such, there are often accidents. The Scholarly Kitchen teamed up with engineers from Starbucks to tackle this problem, creating a new, patented coffee-resistent sealing technology: Kona Blend Gaskets. The briSKet’s housing is sealed with only the finest Kona Blend Gaskets, rendering the device coffee resistant to a depth of 8 cups.

ScholarNet Communication System – The one piece of hardware that most separates the briSKet from its competitors is its use of the ScholarNet for mobile communication. “Other tablets employ WiFi or 3G cellular technologies to connect to the Internet, which, again, are fine for your average Twilight reader,” noted David Joseph, head of engineering. “Try connecting to a WiFi hot spot or Amazon’s ‘WhisperNet’ from the basement of your average university library or from an ice flow in northern Greenland.”

The existence of the ScholarNet is something that the Scholarly Kitchen’s engineers stumbled upon when developing our Comment-o-Matic app. They noted that certain scholars seemed to have a sixth sense when someone wrote a paper, delivered a conference talk, or even posted a blog comment critical (or in some cases, simply tangentially bearing on) their work. “At first we assumed they discovered such comments or articles via search engines or perhaps from friends,” said Joseph. “But then, while doing product testing for Comment-o-Matic, we noticed that one scholar in particular could detect comments related to his work that were never posted to the Web. To test the hypothesis, we posted a number of test comments on the secure Intranet server we used for product testing, and a few minutes later, replies started showing up. To rule any possibility that we had been hacked, we physically disconnected our server from the Internet, and still the replies persisted. At this point we realized we had stumbled on something a bit creepy but possibly quite useful.”

One theory put forward by the Scholarly Kitchen’s director of para-psychology and quantum mechanics, Clark Michaels, is that the ScholarNet is a kind of psychic communication system developed as a bi-product of the years of training typically required from a scientist or scholar. “It starts in graduate school where one’s odds of surviving to graduation are significantly increased if one is able to develop a sixth sense as to where the closest open bar can be found. It is then further developed as a way to avoid bumping into one’s thesis advisor on campus when one’s work is overdue. We think use of the ScholarNet is mostly subconscious—we don’t think most scholars even realize they are doing anything extraordinary.”

The briSKet will ship in June. You can pre-order one now for home delivery or pick one up at the SSP Annual Meeting.

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Michael Clarke

Michael Clarke

Michael Clarke is the Managing Partner at Clarke & Esposito, a boutique consulting firm focused on strategic issues related to professional and academic publishing and information services.


6 Thoughts on "Scholarly Kitchen to Launch New Electronic Tablet: The briSKet"

I saw the egg-beta version and I couldn’t wait to get my teeth into it. The users-pay model is not so revolutionary. In my experience of working with digital resources, I have often found that in the end it was the users that paid. After all, only a fool would expect their cake and eat it.

The thing about brisket, it’s all in the sauce and slow burn. This post’s got both. Oops, excuse me, need to get back to the kitchen of the paranormal.

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