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Publications of the Future - Rantings and Ravings
Sorel Reisman
AUG 22, 2013 09:46 AM
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In this, my second blog post, I'd like to elaborate on some of the matters I introduced last month, related to the quality of scholarly publications. In my first post, I lamented about the probability of a future in which there may be a decreasing number of higher education authors and readers of scholarly articles. This month I'd like to continue that discussion, but focus on other matters that I think may affect the nature of scholarly publications in the future.

Clearly, a driving force behind the changing nature of journal publication is the Internet and the fact that more and more content is being prepared for online presentation for presentation on electronic readers. With eReaders, content consumers access content in different ways than in the past — especially if that content is enhanced with the kinds of multimedia deliverable via the World Wide Web.

Notice that I label eReader users as content consumers and not just as "readers." Reading becomes only a fractional part of the users' cognitive processing when they use eReaders. In fact, studies have shown that people (including our students) have changed their reading and library research habits because they now do the majority of their 'reading' on screens of one kind or another, allegedly even resulting in concomitant changes to their brain structures! (If you don't believe me, do a Google-search. You'll get lots of hits.)

IEEE and the Computer Society have been publishing more and more of their journals online for a number of years. They continue to investigate better ways to present content in this way, not only by enhancing articles with multimedia but also by reformatting content for eReader topologies (versus the printed page), and by making content consumption an interactive activity rather than the passive activity of traditional printed-page reading.

Yet, the real publishing leaders have been newspapers and magazines whose businesses were the first to suffer from the movement from traditional print to online. Nevertheless, most of them continue to struggle to transform themselves from their original horse-and-buggy days to the online world of the 21st Century, and beyond. In this regard we should probably keep an eye on the Washington Post. Jeff Bezos' Amazon, the revolutionary online retailing website, may be the precursor of a revolutionary online news and information provider website. Let's hope.

In the future, publishing — of both popular and higher-education content — will also have to take account of social and cultural changes caused by the Internet and the WWW. Phenomena such as social networking with reader comments and ratings; changes in content presentation formats; inclusion of rich multimedia including 3-D, virtual reality; interactive reading with physical gesturing; disruptive movements such as Open Access with related government policies; and so on all exist only because of the Internet and will continue to drive changes in our online "reading" experience. In fact, what we currently consider to be published "content" will likely be very, very different in form and format in the decades ahead.

OK, now that you know a little something about my thoughts about the future of publishing, you might also be interested to know what some of my learned and experienced colleagues in the IEEE Computer Society think.

Over the past few months, Paolo Montuschi and Alfredo Benso, members of the Computer Society Board of Governors and active researchers themselves, have been working on an article that addresses the changing nature of research publications. They have collected their views and those of several of our colleagues on this topic in their forthcoming article, "Augmented Reading, Present and Future of Electronic Scientific Publications," which will appear later this year in Computer magazine. It's interesting to note that, although theirs is a "traditional" magazine article, they have enhanced it with clickable hyperlinks and videos, including a clip with interviews of other Computer Society volunteers, all of whom have significant experience in publishing IEEE Computer Society magazines and transactions.

The video clip, which is eight minutes long, is definitely worth watching for a perspective on these volunteers' views of scholarly publishing's future. They discuss operational issues that face journal publishers today through to strategic matters that will certainly affect publishing operations in the future. And of course, IEEE and the Computer Society are among these publishers.

This video, which you can see at, consists of interviews with:

  • the current Computer Society president, David Grier, who was also the VP of publications;
  • Computer Society president-elect Dejan Milojicic, who created Computing Now, the Computer Society's all-electronic online publication presence;
  • Jon Rokne, who was the vice president of publications of both the Computer Society and IEEE;
  • Fabrizio Lombardi, a member of the Computer Society Board of Governors and editor in chief of IEEE Transactions on Emerging Topics in Computing; and
  • Steve Woods, the Computer Society's Senior Manager of New Media Productions.

Oh yes. I was interviewed too, having myself served for more than 20 years on the Computer Society Publications Board, the last two years as its vice president, and currently serving on the IEEE Publications Board as editor in chief of the IEEE eLearning Products and Services Board. Among us, we represent decades of publishing experience, and all of us are concerned about the future of scholarly publishing.

So, to conclude this month, I again invite you to share your thoughts about these matters in the accompanying discussion board, and also to directly inundate my interviewed colleagues with your flaming emails! They love it. I've been doing it them for years. And they to me.

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About Sorel Reisman

Sorel Reisman

Sorel Reisman is the Managing Director of the international consortium, MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching) in the California State University Office of the Chancellor, Professor of Information Systems at California State University, Fullerton, President Emeritus (2011) of the IEEE Computer Society, editor-in-chief of the IEEE eLearning Products and Services Committee, and member of the board of the Open Courseware Consortium (OCWC).

Computing Now Blogs
Big Data Trends: by David Feinleib
Enterprise Thinking: by Josh Greenbaum
A Cloud Blog: by Irena Bojanova
Mind the Cloud: by Thoran Rodrigues
Musings from the Ivory Tower: by Sorel Reisman
No Batteries Required: by Ray Kahn
Out of Print: by Evan Butterfield
Software Technologies: by Christof Ebert