|Volume 3: No. 11|
I mentioned The Scientist last week as "a biweekly tabloid for life-sciences researchers," and Dave Lewis (lewis @research.att.com) tells me that this doesn't do the publication justice. The Scientist is a high-quality "trade magazine" for scientists in all areas of science, and is an excellent source of career information. (No wonder NSF is helping to publish its text free over the internet.) Computer science articles are rare, but computational issues in other fields are often discussed. Also high-tech entrepreneurship. $58/year. Contact Eugene Garfield (email@example.com) for subscription information.
Joshua Lederberg had a 27KB essay in the 3/2 edition of The Scientist. It's from a lecture on "Communication As The Root Of Scientific Progress." Lederberg has been a "scientific reader" for 50 years, and has been well-served by the refereed journals. He scans dozens of journals, reading several hours per day, and acts as "chief reader" for his lab. (That's the kind of job I want!) Books are seldom much use to him, although he does read a few biographies and philosophical works. Electronic aids such as Current Contents on Diskette help him keep up with his field, and he'd like to see further developments of electronic distribution and commentary -- but not without an imprimatur or review process to help filter what to read. Lederberg complains that the volume of material available in each specialty forces one toward specialization, whereas the scarcity of interdisciplinary sources hinders serious interdisciplinary career development. Electronic forums can bridge the gaps, but he sees too much noise and too little rigorous scholarship. There's still so much to do within the formal paradigm that he's not looking for improvements on the print-based scientific method. [Tom Rindfleisch (tcr @camis.stanford.edu).] (Electronic forums are a great way to evolve new journals and specialties, though. The noise problem may subside as professional editors filter for paying customers.)
Gary Taubes' "Publication by Electronic Mail Takes Physics by Storm" is recommended by John M. Saylor (firstname.lastname@example.org). It's in Science, Vol. 259, 2/26, pp. 1246-1248. Taubes likes the [HPCwire] system where you scan titles or abstracts, then order full articles. Paul Ginsparg's successful electronic preprint service for physicists is also described. It has over 8,000 users, and is changing the way Physics is done. [PACS-L, 3/12. Also Current Cites, 3/16.]
British historian C. Northcote Parkinson, author of "Parkinson's Law, or the Pursuit of Progress," died last week at the age of 83. The Reuters obituary carried a good quotation: "A committee grows organically, flourishes and blossoms, sunlit on top and and shady beneath, until it dies, scattering the seed from which other committees will spring". [Tim Finin, 3/14.]