As we’ve absorbed and adopted the information economy assumptions peddled by Silicon Valley, social isolation has increased, the definition of “fact” has become slippery, and the scientific record has become more superficial, less reliable, and more transitory. In fact, confirmation bias seems to have become our main operating principle. Maybe a change in economic incentives and greater skepticism across the board could help — all driven by more humans at the controls.
Information warfare is both tactical and strategic, with much of its success stemming from the weakened economics of the current information economy. Scholarly publishers have experienced this in many ways, from Google Scholar to predatory publishers to pre-print archives — all answers to the calls for “free information” and all revealing tactical and strategic vulnerabilities as accuracy and facts become luxury items in the information war.
The age of information abundance may have fundamental flaws — barriers to entry that create false equivalence; dissemination tools that conflate fake information with responsible sources; self-reinforcing loops of conspiracy and paranoia; and social fragmentation that makes societal disruption more likely. What can be done? Here are a few ideas.
The long-desired hope that digital publishing will be cheaper gets more cold water, as infrastructure and personnel costs continue to rise, with no real end in sight.
Expectations of free content are entrenched, but artists, authors, and publishers are all hurting because of it. The basic problem? It’s leading to a lack of trust in the future.
It’s a question that has lurked around the edges of our campfire for a while — what if publishers paid authors of research papers? Quickly, it becomes clear why this is very unlikely to happen — for financial, ethical, and practical reasons.
Journals as communication vehicles that bind communities of practice are still important and well-regarded, but there are external forces changing them and our industry, along with a rising level of neglect, which may mean a harder future for them than ever. What might we lose? And how does this explain why change is so slow in coming?
Smaller independent and society publishers are finding it increasingly difficult to compete with the economies of scale around production, technology, and (most important) institutional sales that can be brought to bear by a large publisher. If you are a society that has been self-publishing for many decades, such effects may appear as only a recent headwind in a long publishing tradition. This headwind, however, is most likely not a temporary zephyr but rather a permanent fixture of the STM and scholarly publishing landscape, and one that will only increase in intensity. To understand why, it is helpful to look at the two vectors on which scale operates in STM and scholarly publishing: horizontal and vertical. While horizontal scale has long been the province of commercial publishers, society publishers are typically organized to take advantage of vertical scale. The headwinds are presently blowing along the horizontal plane, from the perspective of the society publisher.
We were wrong to expect that online publishing would be cheaper and simpler than print. Acknowledging that, and facing the slower, more complicated commercial world it has created, could put us on a better path.
A look back at some of Rick Anderson’s insightful pieces on the economic realities of journal prices and library budgets.
SAGE has announced its investment in PeerJ, an Open Access publisher with an unusual business model. SAGE’s David Ross answers some questions about the thinking behind this move and some of its implications for the future.
Shorter deadlines, email reminders, and cash incentives can speed up the peer review process and minimize unintended effects, a recent study suggests. Can it work for other disciplines?
The Internet rewards scale and creates clear competitive disadvantages for niche businesses. Now that a long-term economic downturn has made for starker realities, the effects of this basic set of facts seem inevitable.
A new infographic presentation shows just how effectively a story can be told around data. It also reveals how divergent perceptions, ideals, and reality can be.
By labeling activities that make things affordable and alleviate pressures throughout the system, those who argue against “double-dipping” are not only making things less affordable, but putting forth double-standards.