The Economist commented on the changing nature of journal publishing. They say journal publishing is a $7 to $11 billion business annually. So idealistic ideas about wide dissemination of knowledge has been stalled by all the publishers with big stakes in controlled distribution. But the people who pay for research–you and me, fellow taxpayer–and nonprofit funders are putting the heat on publishers to come up a way to get information out there more widely. So, very reluctantly, publishers are looking at models where editing and online publishing costs of research papers would be paid for by the funder or the papers would be put in an open, free archive after six months.
The bottom line is that the heavily controlled former system of knowledge publishing (version 1.0) might be replaced by a much more open system with global distribution and much wider public examination (I’ll call it version 2.0). So, long run, what’s the social effect of a quantum leap in free-floating scientific information?