Science has always seemed to be a somewhat closed area of study. John Wilbanks writes that “the paper-based status quo relies on strictly enforced barriers to public access that prevent the rapid dissemination of vital knowledge”. He continues to write about the changing nature of the industry, with the digital revolution pushing content online, with physical scientific journals (eventually) becoming obsolete. While this is not a new phenomenon with other media such as books, music, movies and television all becoming digitised, it does bring into light the issues surrounding the accessibility of this information.
While we should, as a society, attempt to close the gap between the educated and less educated, the digitisation of these journals may hinder this attempt. Whereas before, a person who wished to view these journals could go to a library and do so, online versions of the same information require a username and password to access the information. While the information is indeed meant to be read by a certain section of society – educators, scientists, students etc – the information should not by any means be limited to them, and it seems this is what will transpire when paper journals cease to be produced.
Education is no longer seen as a privilege but a right, and the means to achieve this education would seemingly fall under this idea. Thus, while technology is indeed advancing and will see the field of science make great leaps and jump in the upcoming years, the distribution of this information needs to be made available to any person who seeks it.
Wilbanks eloquently states this when he remarks that:
“Science publishing isn’t just an industry. It’s also the core factory for knowledge transfer in the world. It has been since 1665, when the first journal was published asPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. And we need to think about the knowledge first—that’s why these were called philosophical transactions, not economic ones”.
Wilbanks, J., 2011. On Science Publishing. Available at: <http://seedmagazine.com/content/article/on_science_publishing/> Accessed: 10 May 2011