Magazine article Information Today

SSP's Annual Meeting: Advancing Scholarly Communities in the Brave 'Now' World

Magazine article Information Today

SSP's Annual Meeting: Advancing Scholarly Communities in the Brave 'Now' World

Article excerpt

More than 600 editors, publishers, writers, and other information professionals gathered in Baltimore in late May for the Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP) annual meeting.

While attendance was lower than last year's record-setting 700, the turnout was similar to other recent SSP meetings. The general mood was positive, which is encouraging in these tumultuous economic times. While scholarly publishing is changing rapidly and dramatically, the presentations followed the often familiar themes of marketing, technology, and publishing strategies/business models.

Science and Publishing

After acknowledging our current moment in history with its abounding geopolitical and financial crises, opening keynoter Adam Bly, founder and CEO of Seed Media Group, LLC and editor-in-chief of Seed, said science is the key to sustained economic growth and stability in the 21st century. Science is not just a business investment; it has the potential to transform the world. Publishers have a responsibility to promote science by disseminating knowledge. And by understanding and listening to scientists, we can begin to understand the forces acting on our industry and move forward.

Science is not a closed system; it is porous as it interacts with the arts, literature, and culture. According to Bly, 65% of scientists cite literature, 73% of them recognize world affairs, and 63% say that politics has an influence on their work. More than 60% of scientists are involved in at least one international collaboration.

Scientists care about social issues and can become a powerful force for change. They have a growing expectation of open access to information, and most of them believe that their publications should be freely available to their colleagues and the public. Many scientists are taking proactive steps to make this possible by posting research results on their websites and using blogs to connect with their peers.

Bly said that at this time of massive change, we have the opportunity to redefine our industry based on a new generation of innovators. A wholesale revolution of the publishing industry is needed. He identified the following measures as important:

* We must have a core of digital information, not just digital accessories or tools.

* Nothing we do should limit the advancement of science. Information needs to flow freely.

* The developing world needs to be connected to countries that are already developed; a new framework for intellectual property rights needs to allow easy global collaboration.

* Knowledge needs to be extracted from information and a new language of communication needs to be fostered to move to a new level of information literacy.

* Scientists pursue truth and will go to great lengths to find it; publishers need to provide the information and resources they need.

"We need science today more than ever before," said Bly, "and we need the hallmarks of curiosity and creativity of scientists. We cannot be the limiting factor to discovery. The world relies on scientists, and they rely on us. We must not let them down."

Publishing for the Google Generation

A session on publishing for the Google Generation drew a large audience. Vikram Savkar, publishing director at the Nature Publishing Group (NPG), said we all are part of the Google Generation in a sense, but the term generally refers to those under 25 because of the deep impact that the internet has had on them and how they think about content. To succeed, publishers must change and adapt their policies to the major drivers of change today, including search engines (as gatekeepers to information), crowdsourced content (as a collective whole such as Wikipedia), and access to free information.

Savkar pointed to success stories: Facebook, which has turned millions of students into publishers; YouTube and Twitter, which have made information short and punchy; and email and instant messaging, which have added a social velocity to information. …

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