ATG Article of the Week: The Next Big Things?

by | Apr 23, 2014 | 0 comments

The Next Big Things? is a recent piece by Alice Meadows in Scholarly Kitchen that discusses a presentation by Clifford Lynch at the annual Fiesole Retreat.  In this post, Ms. Meadows brings her own perspective to three “simmering issues” that according to Mr. Lynch are flying under the radar screen in scholarly publishing.  She agrees with Mr. Lynch and points out that while these three issues; privacy, trust, and managing the popular cultural record in the digital era have elicited some discussion, they are not top priorities, at least not yet.

Admittedly, privacy issues have received plenty of attention in the national press with Edward Snowden, the NSA, etc. However, it has been afforded far less focus as it relates to scholarly publishing and communication. In today’s online world capabilities exist for publishers, librarians, and others to gather detailed personal data about who our readers and users are, what they read, and why they read it. Following Lynch’s lead, Ms. Meadows draws from her experience in publishing and points out that many authors would welcome additional information about their readers and wonders how much information about readers publishers should share with their authors.  And then conversely, she wonders what role publishers should play in protecting the privacy of their readers and users. (Editor’s note: Librarians have always had privacy concerns about patron records and those concerns are only exacerbated in today’s data collecting environment.)

In discussing the issue of trust, not only does Ms. Meadows mention Mr. Lynch’s focus on the reproducibility of research findings and the role of peer review but she expands the conversation to include the work of Carol Tenopir and David Nicholas and their recent survey on trust in scholarly communications.

Ms. Meadows admits that preserving the popular culture record is not something she has spent a lot of time considering.  However, she acknowledges its importance and notes that print collections like those in the British Library have successfully preserved and protected the popular cultural record in the form of numerous personal documents and manuscripts. She also seems to share Mr. Lynch awareness of how overwhelming a task this will be in a world dominated by online communication.

Naturally, all this ruminating leads Ms. Meadows to come up with a couple “simmering issues” of her own. But of course, you will need to read the post to learn more about those.


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