The Price of Silicon Valley’s "Disruption" — Is It Possible to Now Have Responsible Information Economics?

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.

Economics, Silicon Valley, and Information Warfare — Is Accuracy Becoming a Luxury Item? Or a Casualty?

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.

How’s That "Abundance" Thing Working Out For You?

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 Changing Nature of Scale in STM and Scholarly Publishing

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.