16.232 MacArthur Fellowship recognizes Internet publisher

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty (w.mccarty@btinternet.com)
Date: Tue Oct 01 2002 - 02:24:28 EDT

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                   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 <willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk>
             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) | willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk

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