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RE: Dinos on the WEB? Please respond

On Wed, 15 Nov 1995, Jeff Poling wrote:

> >THere are some real pluses in publishing on the web.
> >1.  It is fast.  It is much cheaper (no page charges, no charges
> >for reprints, you still own your own copyright, etc.)

It certainly is fast, although sometimes I  think at the 
expense of care.  Many people think that, because one can go back and 
edit a web page with relative ease, that the first cut doesn't 
have top be as good.

> >2.  Web accessible stuff is cheaper fro libraries to get than standard
> >journals!!  

True enough.  Especially for people in relatively out of the way places.
It's also a lot easier to browse and search through electronic 
documents than to do so through standard paper journals.

> >There are however one or two disadvantages that need to be worked out:
> >1.  how do make sure that this information will be accessible 20 or 200 years
> >from now as technology changes?  This is one that will bother us for some
> >time to come i fear. 

This is a much more serious problem than  most people would believe.  There
are questions over how long CD ROMs last for instance, even if 
they last for 30 years will there still be readers for them.  

8 inch floppy disks anyone?

If one of those huge repositaries of information has a problem 
during n upgrade to an even huger technology and the backup 
doesn't work we've potentially lost a huge amount of data.

> >2.  how do we convince university admin types that this is a valid medium
> >for publishing worth just as much as publishing in some paper journal.  
> >until we do this, young academics dependent on the tenure process will 
> >shun these journals.

Those stuffy old academics.  One wonders how long it took them to 
accept the printed (as opposed to carefully illuminated) text as a valid 

>    ...and let's not forget the difficulties of reading anything on a
> computer screen for an extended period of time.  Some classmates in a
> Communications class did a feasibility study on textbooks on CD ROM.  Two
> problems immediately presented themselves:  1) computer time in the public
> labs.  

Computers are getting significantly cheaper by the minute.  I would suspect
this problem will be no more severe than the current problems in 
libraries at the moment (the book you want is _always_ out on 

> 2) nobody
> wants to spend an extended period of time staring at a computer screen.  

This is still a major problem.  I work with computers all the time, 
most of my life is spent looking at a computer screen.  I'd still 
rather read a paper on, well, paper.

However I would expect that, within ten years, there will be A4 sized
flat screens that one can read in bed.  A purpose built 
web browsing/ book tablet would only need a  couple of controls.    

There are already web browsers for the Apple Newton...  a (blurred)
vision of the future.

The BIG advantage of journals on the web even now is that I could keep
up with my disparate areas of interest without having to 
subscribe to 30 really expensive journals which I don't have ready access 
too.  This would remain an advantage for me even if I personally printed 
out the articles I'm interested in and read them on paper.

After all, most people only skim the abstracts and conclusions 
and then (if the article looks worth reading) bother to read the 
bulk of the text.  A journal which was distributed as a slim 
volumne containg abstracts and conclusion, with the main text 
available on the accompanying CD-ROM, would still be a significant 
saving over the current methods of publication.

Derek Tearne - http://webservices.comp.vuw.ac.nz/artsLink/ManyHands/
Some of the more environmentally aware dinosaurs were worried about the
consequences of an accident with the new Iridium enriched fusion reactor.
"If it goes off only the cockroaches and mammals will survive..." they said.