The first official issue of the Public Library of Science Biology is online. This is perhaps what you’d call an “open source” approach to science publishing. Scientists with no less prominence than Harold Varmus have been trying to wrest the control of scientific publication from a small group of publishing companies that charge very high prices (exorbitant or not is debatable) for scientific publications. The tradition—serving prestige and career interests of scientists as well as fat bottom lines of publishers—very significantly curtails the circulation of findings for research that is overwhelmingly paid for by taxpayers and by nonprofit funders, e.g., ACS. This is an attempt to create an alternative.
This ought to resonate with the ACS. Hasn’t it been the case that we have always wanted research findings concerning cancer in the public domain?
The articles are freely accessible and downloadable without fees. This is sort of revolutionary and it is achieved by—get this—having the author’s pay PloS $1,500 to cover review and editing costs. It’s not going to come from authors’ personal pockets; they’ll just add a $1,500 publishing cost item into their grant requests. Small change, overall.
“By removing restrictions on the sharing of knowledge — ensuring that anyone, anywhere can access the latest research findings — PLoS Biology will speed the pace of scientific discovery.”
Let’s hope so.
On the matter of whether the US technical community is losing ground to international competitors, Andy Grove, long-time, now retired CEO of Intel, offered his views recently. He introduced himself by saying to his audience, “I’m here to be the skunk at your garden party.” Andy is very concerned about the software and technology industries being able to compete with India and China. He thinks they may surpass the US in jobs by 2010. Other US industries have taken hits like that before and not fully recovered.
On the other hand…
Okay, so Kurzweil’s “singularity” is hard to swallow. But even without big breakthroughs in nanotech and AI, it seems to me current technology pushed to new levels is going to change things a lot.
For example, here’s links to articles that have appeared quite recently that point toward the availability in the pretty-near future of a kind of total personal information system. Let’s see what they add up to…
Last weekend I attended the “Accelerating Change Conference” at Stanford, put on by the Accelerating Change Institute (ACI), a 501(c)3 with the sole purpose of facilitating—you guessed it—accelerating change. Accelerating change doesn’t just mean that things are changing faster, it means the rate of change itself is accelerating. The change rate is becoming exponential, and, according to some, we are at the elbow of a curve that will soon be going up very steeply.