Publishers are experiencing a sea change in the way business is done and how they are able and will be able to monetize the intellectual property (i.e., content that they promote and sell). We argue that the value of any “piece” of that content is diminished. It is “worth less” because there is so much more. This has upset the value proposition in academic publishing. Silos and paywalls will not stand. They do not meet the needs of scientists or users anymore, only publishers stand to benefit from the status quo. But it is also true that no sustainable business model has emerged from the endless open access discussions that provide for knowledge dissemination on a global scale.
We propose that going forward publishers will no longer be the curators of limited and highly vetted information. Publishers will become developers and administrators of tools that atomize content into its constituent parts and aggregate the pieces in ways that are meaningful for specific scientific communities and individual researchers.
Semantic web technologies make this possible, but it is only through the development and deployment of robust, flexible and interoperable ontologies that advanced analytics of the aggregated content and high predictive value of the research results will be enabled across related data sets and disciplinary barriers. At one level it is necessary that all content pieces remain connected to their source, i.e., they come with a payload of provenance. But provenance in this view is insufficient. What is also needed is a payload of context – providing the user of aggregated content with trusted indicators about how and in what sense the information was originally found.
We envision that these semantic tools will support open innovation in science and academic publishing and will help create collaborative research platforms and multidisciplinary communities of practice from dispersed and disparate individuals – “flash mobs” of scientists to solve specific problems and accelerate scientific discovery. Like in the early days of Internet, a new vocabulary will emerge to describe this new landscape of content distribution and use. We see the semantic web as becoming a simulacrum of consciousness. We are creating a “global brain,” a knowledge system that represents the operations of the human mind and interfaces with it through the same mechanisms of meaning comprehension and creation.
Hal Warren, Bryan Dennis, and Eva Winer (American Psychological Association)