Spent Friday and Saturday at the AWRA winter board meeting. One topic we discussed was where JAWRA is heading in terms of technology. So, I’ll share some of the discussion with you.
No, the paper copy is not going away! Not yet, anyway. You need to recognize, however, the online version – the version of record since 2007 – already offers features you don’t get in paper. Online readers often see color figures instead of black and white, and can access supplemental files containing data and more detailed explanations. We’re going to push the envelope a step further in 2012 to support the GIS Specialty Conference: online video, large maps, and computer code.
Recognizing some of our readers don’t even want the paper copy, AWRA will be offering a special “introductory” rate for online-only membership. You’ll get all of the content, none of the dead trees. Eventually, the paper version will become a “premium” offering for those who still want limited content delivered this way. No price schedule or time frame yet, but stay tuned to the AWRA website.
What does the slightly more distant future hold? Wiley-Blackwell already is hinting at journal apps under development. Going this direction would do away with inelegant supplemental files and embed the functionality directly into the articles. There really is no print equivalent for this type of presentation. Even the venerable old two-column format might be replaced by something more suited to your particular reading device. Remarkably, the same technology might still be able to offer two-column formatting on the fly for print-on-demand. We’re not there yet, and don’t hold me to these claims, but this stuff is coming close enough to think about.
What will not change? That’s easy: Quality! Even if a future review process requires looking at a video, rest assured that video will face the same careful scrutiny the text gets now. You deserve the best and will get the best.
It’s tempting to think the information technology we grew up with has been around forever. But, change actually as been the rule, not the exception. Think of postcards, records, black-and-white TV, VCR’s, 8-track tapes, and Captain Kirk’s communicator. Four centuries ago, some monk probably sat in a monastery and said, “You know, this moveable type just doesn’t look as good as the old handwritten scrolls. It’ll never catch on.”