Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 16, No. 232.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
Date: Tue, 01 Oct 2002 07:04:45 +0100
From: Willard McCarty <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: MacArthur Award recognizes Internet publisher
Paul Ginsparg, described by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur
Foundation as "Internet Publisher / Physicist", has just been awarded one
of the 2002 MacArthur Fellowships (a.k.a. "MacArthur Genius Award) --
$500,000 U.S. with NO strings attached -- in recognition of his
contributions to "the way physics gets done" through his development of an
innovative online publishing mechanism. You have likely heard of it even if
you have no contact with physics -- the "xxx archive" (currently hosted at
Cornell University at http://arxiv.org), as it is informally known.
The official announcement says that, "Ginsparg's document server represents
a conscious effort to reorganize scientific communications, establishing a
marketplace of ideas of new submissions with minimal editorial oversight
and abundant opportunity for commentary, supporting and opposing, from
other investigators. Ginsparg circumvented traditional funding and approval
mechanisms by developing the software in his spare time and running it on
surplus equipment. This system... provides a new, interactive mechanism for
scientific communications that complements, and in some respects supplants,
more traditional paper publications. All documents are available without
charge worldwide through the internet, making the latest results available
even for those without access to a good research library. Ginsparg has
deliberately transformed the way physics gets done challenging
conventional standards for review and communication of research and thereby
changing the speed and mode of dissemination of scientific advances."
"In all our programs," Jonathan F Fanton, President of the Foundation
notes, "we are committed to nurturing those who are a source of new
knowledge and ideas, have the courage to challenge inherited orthodoxies
and to take intellectual, scientific, and cultural risks. For over two
decades, the MacArthur Fellows Program has been a vital part of the
Foundations efforts to recognize and support individuals who lift our
spirits, illuminate human potential, and shape our collective future."
Let this be encouragement to timorous beasties! Encouragement also to those
who no longer need be so timorous: to do whatever is required so that
innovation does not need to be at the cost of "spare" time and get no
better support than surplus equipment.
It should also be noted, I suppose, that the Ginsparg mechanism suits
physics as it could never suit the humanities. The genius of it lies in
that match between tool, material and its social context. Our publishing
needs, it seems to me, are a great deal more complex and demanding.
Dr Willard McCarty, Senior Lecturer, Centre for Computing in the
Humanities, King's College London, Strand, London WC2R 2LS U.K. | +44 (0)20
7848-2784 (fax -2980) | email@example.com
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