At 10:17 PM 1/21/00 -0500, Thomas B. Passin wrote: > >Michael Champion wrote: >> >> >The thing about the writing is this: the Recs must communicate clearly and, >we hope :-), unambiguously to would-be users. Think of all the arguments on >this list that occur because neither the letter nor the intent of a Rec is >clear. There are two common ways to improve on written material. One is >peer review. You should choose some reviewers that are expert in the field. >The second is mass review, sort of like beta testing. Discussion groups >could do this. > >Trouble with peer review is, who could you get, especially without pay, who >isn't already involved? [comments below] >Trouble with discussion groups is, a lot of the >people responding are either not knowledgeable enough or don't read the >material closely enough. Still, where there is widespread misunderstanding, >the material probably needs rewriting. This mechanism is already being >used, although I don't know how much it matters to the working groups. I would like to think that this list acts somewhere between peer-review and a discussion group, particularly on technical issues. In the early days it was the main forum for public analysis of the specs, particularly since XML was not widely appreciated. > >The IETF won't bless an RFC until there are two independent implementations. >I think this is the right kind of approach. Surely, Tim B's Lark >implementation must have been a great help to the XML committee (I'm >guessing, I don't really know anything about its role). It was, along with Norbert Mikula's NXP (later DXP) and James Clark's XP - I think in that order. They were important in simplifying (sic) the specification of such things as parameter entities. I also endorse the need for reference implementations - this is one reason why I would like a "browser" platform on which to hang early implementations of technical subjects. >There's nothing >like trying to build to a spec to uncover its lack of clarity. Absolutely agreed - and this was really the main motivation in setting up this list. Peer Review --------- I write (perhaps) from a rather academic perspective, but it could be interesting to comment on the role of "publications", "peer review", etc in the context of scholarly publishing. I write this partly because the time has come when HenryR and I have to justify our existence to our university employers - we get assessed on "research excellence" as measured by scholarly publications in "journals" weighted by their impact factor. "Nature" and "Science" score very highly in the STM (science/technical/medical) area whereas I suspect the (?now defunct?) WorldWideWeb Journal scores low. This impact factor is a measure of how many citations the journal gets. Funding, and therefore jobs, depends on the number of "high-impact" publications. We academics are now preparing our justification to keep on living. This is not an absolute measure of excellence, but the algorithm is easy to apply and has replaced the practice of weighing paper publications. However it is strongly biased in favour of the status quo, and publications in new "journals" are likely to be regarded as equivalent to professional suicide. I am wondering, therefore, how we measure the "value" of publication in the communal electronic market-place. Because of my involvement in XML I get asked to talk on scientific publications and the e-revolution and I try to envisage the role of the new technology in changing the publication marketplace. The fundamentals are that high quality still involves a lot of money (conventional scientific publishers reckon that 70% of their costs are not related to the cost of paper, but concerned with editing, peer-review, etc.). On the other hand we can set up a forum - like XML-DEV - where the production costs are marginal and the "editorial policy" is not expensive in cash terms. In XML-DEV we have something that has many of the qualities of a "scientific publication". Apart from the vicious circle of publishing to gain funding, STM publications have the following roles: - communication to the community - establishing priority of ideas or expressions - opening one's work to peer review - building a sense of community - formally depositing re-usable material (data, code, etc.) in the public domain - acting as a historical record In all those areas XML-DEV functions well (and often better) than traditional methods. XML-DEV is not unique and there are many successful models, RFC, other specialist mailgroups, W3C notes, and possibly even newsgroups. [I distinguish XML-DEV from a newsgroup mainly because there is a different membership and attitude, springing from its history.] Is there formal recognition of work done by individuals or organisations? For example, HenryR and I submitted an RFC some years ago (on using MIME for chemistry). There was a huge amount of (mainly) valuable peer-review, but in the end the community didn't take it further. In my own set of values I would regard the authorship of an RFC as more valuable than many of my traditional chemical publications. The formal STM publication market is, in fact, arbitrary. Although it originated from learned societies and individuals, commercial publishers moved in because they thought they could make money - and did. [Their required growth rates are now crippling the academic library system and most librarians are trapped in a cycle of chopping subscriptions and appeasement. Many academics are now not publishing in commercial journals.] But the technology we are developing, here, gives us some opportunity to change this from the bottom-up. I therefore see XML-DEV as one instance of a wide range of "new publication types". I would like to see these as rooted in trusted organisations, and that is one of the primary reasons for transferring to OASIS. XML-DEV has - effectively - achieved the status of a high-impact STM journal - it is widely read (ca 2000, and rising, and probably re-distributed within firewalls) and the recent MODERATION discussion has suggested it works well for members. In other words it is worth their "paying" (in time, not money) to read XML-DEV. It is cited in a variety of e- and paper sources. This is one reason why Henry and I are keen to preserve the archives, because otherwise we lose some of our e-history. I think we have an opportunity here. Is there a role for (say) XML-DEV whitepapers? SAX, XSchema, DDML, and SML could fall into this category. They don't necessarily have to be "successful" - in that they get adopted - but they have to be seen as competent and innovative. So to sum it up, apart from the formal academic process, I feel like the editor of a journal who has been pro-active in sponsoring high-quality publications which meet the criteria set out above. [Obviously if it led to a formal impact factor as well I would be even more happy because it helps keep my job!]. A there ways forward worth developing as part of the move to OASIS? P. xml-dev: A list for W3C XML Developers. To post, mailto:xml-dev@i... Archived as: http://www.lists.ic.ac.uk/hypermail/xml-dev/ or CD-ROM/ISBN 981-02-3594-1 Unsubscribe by posting to majordom@i... the message unsubscribe xml-dev (or) unsubscribe xml-dev your-subscribed-email@your-subscribed-address Please note: New list subscriptions now closed in preparation for transfer to OASIS.
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