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Paris, profit and potential

A UNESCO meeting in Paris last week discussed the potential of electronic publishing in science. There have been some strong movements in biomedical publishing in the past five years but nothing like the seismic shift that's needed, concludes physicist Paul Ginsparg.

Pete Moore(pete.moore@dial.pipex.com)

LONDON In 1996 UNESCO organised a meeting to discuss the potential use of electronic media in science publishing. The delegates reconvened last week in Paris. According to e-media visionary Paul Ginsparg, both occasions ended with attendees putting forward the same list of recommendations. This, he feels, confirms that the requirements of any publishing system have not changed — what has changed, however, is the complexity and depth of understanding of the discussions.

"When UNESCO held its first meeting in 1996 to look at the potential of e-systems to empower academic life, one of the questions that kept floating to the surface was 'Will the web ever catch on?' You could still have an argument as to whether commercial journals were going to go online and if so when. Dates like 2100 or 2200 were taken seriously. But it has happened already — so all those peripheral points have been eliminated...

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