Peter Cochrane's Blog: Are we destined to repeat history?

A case of old world vs new?

Written in Austin, Texas during a short stopover and dispatched to 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'.

Is there a skills shortage?

Tell us what you think of the IT workforce in's 2007 Skills Survey.

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.