Is scientific publishing about to be disrupted?

Foto: Michael Nielsen

Eine der meistgelesenen Blog Posts dieser Tage über die Zukunft des wissenschaftlichen Publikationswesens ist Michael Nielsen’s Is scientific publishing about to be disrupted?. Im wesentlichen vergleicht er den gegenwärtigen Zustand der Publishign Industry mit dem der Zeitungsindustrie vor 5-10 Jahren und prophezeit damit ein Versagen der Verlags-Dinosaurier und die Übernahme durch flinke Start-ups. Hier folgen ein paar lose verknüpfte Zitate, um ihnen Apetitt auf den (langen) Rest zu machen (Fettdruck durch mich):

In conversations with editors I repeatedly encounter the same pattern: “But idea X won’t work / shouldn’t be allowed / is bad because of Y.” Well, okay. So what? If you’re right, you’ll be intellectually vindicated, and can take a bow. If you’re wrong, your company may not exist in ten years. Whether you’re right or not is not the point. When new technologies are being developed, the organizations that win are those that aggressively take risks, put visionary technologists in key decision-making positions, attain a deep organizational mastery of the relevant technologies, and, in most cases, make a lot of mistakes. Being wrong is a feature, not a bug, if it helps you evolve a model that works: you start out with an idea that’s just plain wrong, but that contains the seed of a better idea. You improve it, and you’re only somewhat wrong. You improve it again, and you end up the only game in town. Unfortunately, few scientific publishers are attempting to become technology-driven in this way. The only major examples I know of are Nature Publishing Group (with and the Public Library of Science.

Er vermisst folgende Features bzw. sieht dort großes Potenzial:

– Personalized paper recommendations
– A great search engine for science
– High-quality tools for real-time collaboration by scientists
– Scientific blogging and wiki platforms
– The data web

What I will do instead is draw your attention to a striking difference between today’s scientific publishing landscape, and the landscape of ten years ago. What’s new today is the flourishing of an ecosystem of startups that are experimenting with new ways of communicating research, some radically different to conventional journals. Consider Chemspider, consider startups like SciVee (YouTube for scientists), the Public Library of Science, the Journal of Visualized Experiments, vibrant community sites like OpenWetWare and the Alzheimer Research Forum, and dozens more. And then there are companies like WordPress, Friendfeed, and Wikimedia, that weren’t started with science in mind, but which are increasingly helping scientists communicate their research. […] Let’s look up close at one element of this flourishing ecosystem: the gradual rise of science blogs as a serious medium for research. […] This flourishing ecosystem of startups is just one sign that scientific publishing is moving from being a production industry to a technology industry. A second sign of this move is that the nature of information is changing. Until the late 20th century, information was a static entity. The natural way for publishers in all media to add value was through production and distribution, and so they employed people skilled in those tasks, and in supporting tasks like sales and marketing. But the cost of distributing information has now dropped almost to zero, and production and content costs have also dropped radically. At the same time, the world’s information is now rapidly being put into a single, active network, where it can wake up and come alive. The result is that the people who add the most value to information are no longer the people who do production and distribution. Instead, it’s the technology people, the programmers.