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Editor's Note: Inside the Beltway
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Where I live, Washington DC, we suffer from "inside the beltway" thinking: for us, every burp in the federal government is a major issue that concerns us tremendously. Sometimes those burps have no more effect than, well, a burp. And sometimes they change the very fabric of our world.
The same is true in the world of scholarly publishing: we are interested in minutiae that others find narrow and boring, but sometimes those minutiae grow to change the way we live and work and conduct our business. The Internet was once a local phenomenon. Remember BITNET and Gopher? And look at the effect it has had.
This issue introduces us to some of the specialized work that is done in e-publishing in academe, and much of it has the potential to change the world. I think you will find new ideas here that will resonate inside whatever beltway that surrounds your world — and perhaps beyond.
Hilary Wilder and Sharmila Pixy Ferris, both at William Paterson University in New Jersey, look at how shared knowledge is changed by the medium through which it is communicated, in Communication Technology and the Evolution of Knowledge. What's more, they created and published their article in wikispace, a technology that itself changed their ability to share knowledge and indeed to create it.
Edwin A. Henneken, Michael J. Kurtz, Guenther Eichhorn, Alberto Accomazzi, Carolyn Grant, Donna Thompson, and Stephen S. Murray of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Massachusetts study the effect of pre-publication on astrophysics citations, and find — as earlier studies did in other disciplines — that the effect is salubrious.
Terje Hillesund from the University of Stavanger in Norway, and Jon E. Noring of the OpenReader Consortium argue for a universal digital publication format, and offer some suggestions on what it might include.
Elisabeth Jones and Mark Sandler, both from the University of Michigan, wrote separate articles on the symposium sponsored by University of Michigan University Library (JEP's owner) and National Commission on Libraries and Information Science, "Scholarship and Libraries in Transition: A Dialogue about the Impacts of Mass Digitization Projects." Mark reported on his publishing panel; Elisabeth took a broader view of the entire two-day event.
Stuart Allen, Robert Constable, and Lori Lorigo, all from Cornell University in New York, explain in Using Formal Reference to Enhance Authority and Integrity in Online Mathematical Texts how advanced software can help mathematicians ensure that their proofs are correct and build correctly on the work they are citing. Such software could move beyond mathematics to other fields where exact citation is important.
In All Knowledge, Past and Present, Susan Lukesh, an archaeologist from Hofstra University in New York, invites us into the world she has created with her ancient pottery database, using software that could be applied in other visual fields as well.
Brian F. Lavoie of the OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc. and Roger C. Schonfeld of Ithaka, in Books without Boundaries: A Brief Tour of the System-wide Print Book Collection make the case for a metalibrary of print books that depends on technology to support decisions about purchasing, storing, and archiving collections.