The second point (‘pitch the Editor-in-Chief’) in this article posted on Mashable inevitably made me think of yet another use that social media are being put to that has the potential to disintermediate scholarly publishers.
In the article in question, Woody Lewis (@woodylewis) draws attention to the fact that the Twitter bio of Business Week editor John Byrne (@JohnAByrne) links to a popular page entitled ‘What’s your story idea?‘.
The potential to transpose the concept on to the scholarly journal publication process is so obvious that I will not labour the point, other than to say that this is another way in which social media have the capacity to diminsh the value of the activities of publisher-run editorial offices to the societies on whose behalf they are contracted to act. Furthermore, a good deal of the editor’s time (and that of a potential contributor) could be saved if the author could be advised via a tweet that a similar article was about to be loaded on to the journal’s preprint server, or enlightened almost immediately as to any of the other legion of reasons that articles are declined or accepted.
Time is of course an issue, and few time-poor, already over-commited Editors-in-Chief are likely to wish to step up to such a task. The concept, however, remains an interesting one, and could become another running tear in the fabric of the publication process that scholarly publishing needs to investigate and co-opt before a gaping rent appears.
It is another one of those activities that seems almost too trivial for scholarly publishers to initiate, until the societies on whose behalf they publish decide to undertake this function for themselves. If it proves popular, the societies could go on to add it to the list of duties that increase their value to the community they serve that publishers failed to undertake. If that list gets long enough, the publisher stands to have a pretty torrid time of it when reviewing the RFP on renewal of the contracts.
With the NEJM having recently lauched a Facebook beta site, and some scholarly journals, societies, and editors-in-chief starting to use social media for professional purposes, the migration of a whole raft of activities from scholarly publishers back to the societies themselves has arguably already begun. Will developments such as this accelerate the growth of open access? Will the activity of traditional scholarly publishers be overrun before they decide how to meet the challenges the scholarly and professional use of social media are being put to? It is impossible to say for sure; what is certain, however, is that silence, however profound, does not constitute a compelling argument.
Thanks to @prebynski for the link.