Electronics vs Paper

Julian Humphries jmh3 at CORNELL.EDU
Fri Oct 27 15:39:36 CDT 1995

Ross Hasting wrote:

> Dear Taxacomers:
> But how many taxonomists 200
> years from now will be able to pull your original descriptions published
> in some electronic journal?

All of them, libraries as repositories of paper based books will have
disappeared in 50 years (probably less).  Sure, "rare book" rooms will
exist to hold stuff of antiquarian interest, but there will be zero paper
based publishing long before your 200 year threshold.

What I think we better worry about is is how we are going to read those
currently 100 year old descriptions within the next 20 years as libraries
move more and more of their less frequently used (the stuff we need) books
and journals to long-term warehouse type storage.

Face it, what percentage of the public, ney, even what percentage of
academia uses journals from the last century?  We are somewhat of an
anachronism.  Don't get me wrong, I know this stuff is important, but you
can bet pressure will build inevitably until that stuff is stuck away for

I think that concern about the emphemeral nature of current temporary forms
of electronic digital storage is missplaced.  The era of true electronic
publishing is only 2-3 years old at most.  Permanent terabyte/pedabyte
storage is less than a decade away.  If we start planning on how to most
efficiently publish and store our knowledge within the context of this new
paradigm, we can assure more bang for our buck, more journals, places to
publish longer monographs with full color photography, movies, sounds,

Change or die.

Julian Humphries
Ecology and Systematics, The MUSE Project
Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, 14853
Phone: 607-257-8143    Fax: 607-257-8109

A man with a watch knows what time it is; a man with two watches isn't so sure.

More information about the Taxacom mailing list