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Re: Journals dying?, apparently rather slowly (was ,

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  • Subject: [mg106836] Re: [mg106791] Journals dying?, apparently rather slowly (was ,
  • From: Richard Fateman <fateman at>
  • Date: Sun, 24 Jan 2010 05:44:32 -0500 (EST)
  • References: <27994965.1264251543203.JavaMail.root@n11> <006e01ca9c5f$6e81d8b0$4b858a10$@net>

David Park wrote:
> Two topics: technical publishing in general and technical publishing with
> Mathematica.
> All those journals are known as vanity publishing, Richard. You pay the
> publisher, they don't pay you.
Certainly not all of them.
 If they were journals that merely published papers from authors who 
paid them,
 then my university library would not (knowingly) subscribe. Some of 
them come from universities,
or learned societies, or professional societies.

>  In the technical world it is hugely
> expensive, interminably slow, and grossly inefficient at making the useful
> communication links.
I agree that it is inefficient. So is internet search, which sometimes 
uncovers lots of garbage.
> More and more, work is published on the web. It is the better archive.
There are many problems associated with work published (only) on the 
web, including identifying an archival copy.
If I keep my own copy of my own paper online, I can (and sometimes do) 
update it, so that someone who follows
a citation to it may see a different version from the one cited.  And 
sometimes the link is broken.  Now there
are solutions to these and other problems, but they are not universally 

> Everyone has access to it.
Only if they have internet access and the copy is free of charge.
>  An adequate descriptive title and good search
> engine will find any paper. There is at least one very important paper that
> is only available on the web.
I don't know what that might be, but I could download it and print it, 
and then it would be available on paper (in my office.)
>  Any useful paper is probably useful to a
> rather small selected group of people. 
And some papers published today are useful to no one except possibly the 
author who is using it to
get tenure somewhere.
> Active, dynamic Mathematica notebooks are a better medium for communicating
> technical information than static papers. 
The potential for the medium is not the issue.  There are many excellent 
papers that are "static". They are excellent because
of their content.  Just as there are excellent movies that were filmed 
without color.
Of course, someone might argue that in the future, all movies will be in 
3-D, because that
medium has more avenues for expression.  But today there are still 
people using b&w film.
And non-3D. ... I expect that in the future there will continue to be (a 
small percentage) of
excellent static papers.   I expect that the percentage of excellent 
".nb" papers will also be
small. Perhaps smaller.

If I had an excellent idea and I wished to publish it, I would certainly 
shy away from a presentation
that required the reader to own a Mathematica license, and I expect that 
would be the case for
very many other people.  Does the presentation require dynamic 
notebooks, or is it just a gimmick ?

Now there may be ideas that really can't be satisfactorily expressed 
within the constraints of a linear
static presentation, in which case I might be tempted to try something 
more dynamic.  I might
write a Java applet then. Or attach a program in some other free program.

It may be that the authors of the Digital Library of Mathematical 
Functions at NIST will eventually
produce a kind of dynamic interactive document for their reference work, 
and one that other people
could use (free, presumably).  This might influence the publication of 
work in (especially)
applied mathematics, special functions, and related areas. Eventually.  
I've been disappointed with the pace
of that project, but it is not likely that they would just say, Oh, 
let's use Mathematica!.


> Of course, Mathematica notebooks as papers are only useful if they can be
> universally and freely evaluated. That's the sticking point.
Not the only one, in my opinion.


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