140conf

Why aren’t scholarly publishers this passionate?

140confRayV has now uploaded video of the presentations and panels from the first day of the recent #140conf in New York. One of the best panels of the first day brought together a group of leading journalists to consider the impact of Twitter as a news gathering tool (here (discussion begins at 05:00) but more importantly here).

One of the reasons these professionals displayed strong emotions on this panel is that they understand what is happening to them.

They realize that they are having to fight to remain visible.

They realize that they are having to fight to remain credible.

They realize that they are having to fight to remain relevant.

They realize that they are having to fight to remain in business.

By their own admission, whilst they may be isolated voices within the larger old media concerns that employ them, they are at least here: communicating, participating, and engaging.

When is the last time you saw or heard a scholarly publisher being this passionate about what they do?

My guess is that your answer to this question will be ‘never’.

The rationale behind this supposition is as follows: whilst there are pockets of progressive activity within scholarly publishing, generally speaking it is an enterprise that has yet to admit to itself that it is already in the middle of a crisis. It has yet to surrender itself to the revelatory journey of self-recognition it will at some point have to undertake in order to perceive the changes it must make.

Scholarly publishing has not conceded to itself that the foundations of its enterprise are being shaken to the very bedrock that shores up its meandering, over-extended organizational structure. It follows that if the industry is still denying (in public, at least) what is happening to it, then it can neither acknowledge nor meet the pressing need to step up and state why in its opinion it continues to offer a set of unique value propositions and benefits to the communities and the literature that it serves that cannot be found elsewhere.

Until that moment comes, the future of scholarly publishing will remain uncertain.

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