Reinventing academic publishing online. Part II: A socio-technical vision

Brian Whitworth, Rob Friedman


Part I of this paper outlined the limitations of feudal academic knowledge exchange and predicted its decline as cross-disciplinary research expands. Part II now suggests the next evolutionary step is democratic online knowledge exchange, run by the academic many rather than the few. Using socio-technical tools it is possible to accept all, evaluate all and publish all academic documents. Editors and reviewers will remain, but their role will change, from gatekeepers to guides. However, the increase in knowledge throughput can only be supported by activating the academic community as a whole. Yet that is what socio-technical systems do --- activate people to increase common gains. Part 1 argued that scholars must do this or be left behind in the dust of progress. The design proposed here is neither wiki, nor e-journal, nor electronic repository, nor reputation system, but a hybrid of these and other socio-technical functions. It supports print publishing as a permanent archive byproduct useful to a living, online knowledge exchange community. It could also track academic submissions, provide performance transcripts to promotion committees, enable hyperlinks, support attribution, allow data-source sharing, retain anonymous reviewing and support relevance and rigor in evaluation. Rather than a single "super" KES, a network of online systems united by a common vision of democratic knowledge exchange is proposed.

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