Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Robert Massie on OA

InfoInnovation has blogged some notes on Robert Massie's talk at the NFAIS Annual Conference (Philadelphia, February 24-26, 2008).  Massie is the president of the American Chemical Society’s Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS).  Excerpt:

...It turns out that from its beginnings in the 19th century until 1966, CAS’ abstracts were written by volunteer abstractors – a robust early example of user-generated content.  True, Massie noted, today new standards for chemical information exchange are developing; open access repositories are growing; collaborative websites are emerging; and political/social pressures for more free access characterize the age.  “But do [these trends] have to be opposed? Or assimilated?” Massie noted in particular an article that appeared this month in Nature – “Chemistry for Everyone.”  In it, noted research Peter Murray-rust argues that CAS is “incompatible with the requirements of Web 2.0”; that “closed publications, binary software and toll-access databases are being swept away by emerging philosophies and approaches.”  But, Massie noted, universities are the Web 2.0 homeland, and SciFinder Scholar now serves over 1500 schools.  Not only that – many sites in  China have sprung up to provide information on how to break into the computer systems of major US universities in order to gain access to SciFinder.  So, clearly, “young people in China like SciFinder a lot.”

Massie asserted that the question of Web 2.0 vs. traditional publications is “not a binary problem.” ...

Comment.  I wish I had access to the full talk in order to see two parts in context.  First, what did Massie mean by asking whether the trends toward OA (or Web 2.0?) "have to be opposed? Or assimilated?”  It sounds like he thinks opposition is unnecessary and unwise.  But does assimilation mean adoption?  Second, I'd like to see whether he went beyond a narrow response to Peter Murray-Rust's claim that the new models were sweeping away the old, and offered a wider response to his argument that the new models were superior. 

Update.  Also see Peter Murray-Rust's comment.