“Newspaper Revolution” will hit Academia!

You might have thought Journalists – usually quicker on the uptake than others – were slow to realize that their printed industry is going down.

Academics – as much as I like them – are known for their lag and a certain disconnectedness to the “real” world. For all those professors and others in the field who think they are invincible: please take a look at Michael Nielson explaining the broader picture and what the “News Revolution” will do to Academic Publishing.

What we’ve read

I have read a lot of articles and papers about the fall of the newspaper industry lately. Most of them read alike:

A large monopoly can only last so long before it crashes; the “all free”-development of the internet and the entailing collapse of advertisement revenue for print has caused the fall. So far so good.

But Michael Nielson takes a step back and looks at a somewhat larger picture, arguing that “Scientific Publishing is About to Be Disrupted” as well.

Organizational Immune Systems

Where have all the books gone? Online! ©pcbritz

Where have all the books gone? Online! ©pcbritz

He explains the crash of the newspaper industry caused through internal factors. Nielson argues that the people inside an industry have developed good mechanisms to keep up the quality. These mechanisms are definitely in place in Academia (if only I consider all the style books!)

However, he argues that new technology requires “drastic reinvention” to adapt and that can only come from the outside. This larger theory explains how industries fail in general and is not necessarily limited to newspapers.

Nielson sees the same development in academic publishing.

Signs to notice that things are moving? He sais, when a number of new startup ventures rise that overlap with existing services or products, but have a different architecture (which has more room for improvement than the old). Although many of those ventures will initially fails, these developments cannot be ignored. Why?

Do the Math

Consider his “calculation”: If you ignore a new development and it doesn’t work – “you are lucky and can take a bow”. Otherwise, your company may not exist anymore in 10 years.

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