Jacques Barzun as an editor. The amazing experience of a virtual beginner in book-writing, coached through several re-writes by one of the premier scholars of the 20th century.
I see from looking over the correspondence that he asked me to begin the entire book again four times. He told me unequivocally the first time and was circumspect enough during the next attempts to outwit any inclination to throw the damn thing out the window. I suppose I employed some self-help quirks to deal with the punishment. In my mind he became a tormenting suitor determined to win: nuisance notes in the mail, calling at all hours, banging and yelling at the door, leaving me querulous, achy, and distraught. I hated him and I loved him and there was no way to rid myself of the affliction without finishing the job properly.
For example, the future of the scientific paper.
Henry Oldenburg created the first scientific journal in 1665 with a simple goal: apply an emerging communication technology — the printing press — to improve the dissemination of scholarly knowledge. The journal was a vast improvement over the letter-writing system that it eventually replaced. But it had a cost: no longer could scientists read everything someone sent them; existing information filters became swamped.
To solve this, peer and editorial review emerged as a filter, becoming increasingly standardized in the science boom after the Second World War. This peer-review system applies community evaluation of scholarly products by proxy: editorial boards, editors and peer reviewers are nominated to enact representative judgements on behalf of their communities.
Now we are witnessing the transition to yet another scholarly communication system — one that will harness the technology of the Web to vastly improve dissemination. What the journal did for a single, formal product (the article), the Web is doing for the entire breadth of scholarly output. The article was an attempt to freeze and mount some part of the scholarly process for display. The Web opens the workshop windows to disseminate scholarship as it happens, erasing the artificial distinction between process and product.
Over the next ten years, the view through these open windows will inform powerful, online filters; these will distil communities’ impact judgements algorithmically, replacing the peer-review and journal systems.
Amazon ebooks, the joy of zero cost vanity publishing to earn 35% or 70% royalties on almost zero cost books. And the joy of html coding as well!!