Written in Austin, Texas during a short stopover and dispatched to silicon.com the same day via free wi-fi at my hotel
Throughout my professional career I have relied on professional journals and publications as my primary sources of refereed information for the reporting of scientific and engineering results. But this old world of open corroboration and reference seems to be retreating real fast.
Everywhere I look, I see so-called 'new' ideas and results reported and displayed that were first published prior to the web's arrival. It is as if the young have adopted the mantra, 'if it ain't on the web it doesn't exist'.
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I have to confess I have largely gone that way too and tend to increasingly look upon most professional journals as the irrelevant preserve of the academic and technologically introverted communities.
How did this happen? The professional institutions have been the laggards in a world where they preached change. They have stuck with and protected the old paper publications and refereed system. They have also promoted closed and exclusive websites. But the world has moved on with everything biased toward the open and fast moving.
The only way these professional groups can reclaim the high ground is to digitise their extensive libraries from the past, provide open access to everyone and migrate to a faster publishing and review regime. Will they do it? I hope so but I don't see it happening! They are mostly made up of old minds with a vested interest in preserving the past.
So what will happen? I think the bifurcation of the old and new will accelerate. And for sure the old doesn't have much time. The good news is that repeating some of the work from the past using the latest technology and techniques might just reveal things that were missed or misunderstood the first time around.
Peter Cochrane is an engineer, scientist, entrepreneur, futurist and consultant. He is the former CTO and head of research at BT, with a career in telecoms and IT spanning more than 40 years.