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Revisiting: What the Future of Scholarly Communication Will Be

It could be pluralistic and democratic, or monocultural and authoritarian

Looking back on this piece about the future prospects for a diverse scholarly publishing ecosystem, it’s kind of hard to believe that I wrote it only two and a half years ago. Sad to say, the world at large has not become a place more tolerant of pluralism and ideological diversity than it was in 2020.

Here in the U.S., at least, we continue to be whipsawed politically and culturally between a North Korea-style cult of personality and an increasingly McCarthyesque regime of thought policing. And hey — just about everyone is banning books! To what degree do we want to let the scholarly communication ecosystem become a reflection of our larger society’s increasing intolerance of differing viewpoints, practices and models?

Will the Future of Scholarly Communication Be Pluralistic and Democratic, or Monocultural and Authoritarian?

Over the past 20 years, I’ve engaged in more discussions, and read more articles and reports, and listened to more presentations about the present and future of scholarly communication than I can possibly count. For me, each of these conversations, documents and presentations serves as a single point in a large and growing mass of data. Looking at it in the aggregate, this data set reveals certain patterns. One of the patterns that has recently become clear to me is that the scholarly communication community — a huge, globally and ideologically diverse group of people and organizations — is struggling collectively to make a choice between two mutually incompatible options. The difficulty of that choice is compounded by several factors, one of which is the fact that neither of these mutually incompatible options is perfect, and, yet, our community will eventually, inevitably, choose one of them over the other. Another factor contributing to this difficulty is the fact that there is not a universal willingness to discuss openly the necessity of the choice or even the reality of it.

Please select this link to read the complete article from The Scholarly Kitchen.

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