LINGUIST List 12.1478

Sun Jun 3 2001

Disc: Ethics of Web-based vs Paper Publications

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <karenlinguistlist.org>


Directory

  1. Michael A. Covington, Re: 12.1466, Disc: Ethics of Web-based vs Paper Publications
  2. Martha McGinnis, Re: 12.1466, Disc: Ethics of Web-based vs Paper Publications
  3. sharbani, Re: 12.1466, Disc: Ethics of Web-based vs Paper Publications

Message 1: Re: 12.1466, Disc: Ethics of Web-based vs Paper Publications

Date: Fri, 1 Jun 2001 09:47:29 -0400
From: Michael A. Covington <MichaelCovingtonInnovations.com>
Subject: Re: 12.1466, Disc: Ethics of Web-based vs Paper Publications

Responding to David Odden's remarks...

> Web-publication can have the effect of rendering papers invisible to those
> in developing countries. It is fortunate that you have high-speed web
access
> (not to mention a computer), something that many of my colleagues in
Africa
> cannot take for granted.

But it also works the other way. Web publications are available to
anyone in the world who has one thing -- an Internet connection.
Print publications are "invisible" to anyone who doesn't receive that
particular publication, including not only people in Third World
countries, but also scholars at smaller institutions, people outside a
particular scholar's personal mailing list, or what have you.
Remember how "invisible" Chomsky's _Logical Structure of Linguistic
Theory_ was during the first 20 years of its influence?

> Additionally, printed articles are "platform
> independent", whereas the hassles that face even us in North American
> universities in trying to deal with postscript, PDF, Latex, and whatever,
> can be enormous. The simple problem of fonts and the Mac/PC divide is
> evidence to me that current web technology and practice is not
satisfactory
> as a sole mode of publishing. Given how file formats and other computer
> specifications change quickly, one should expect an article web-published
in
> 2001 to be un-openable in 2101.

Some "web publishing" is done in file formats that are not well chosen
*now*, such as proprietary word processor files. Web publishing
should always be done in file formats that are *designed* to be
universally readable, such as HTML, PDF, or PostScript, rather than
formats that were designed for some other, more transitory, purpose.

LaTeX source code is not meant to be published. Microsoft Word files
are not meant to be published. Both of those file formats exist for
encoding input to programs that produce output in more portable form.

Having said that -- I do not think any of the file formats that are
designed for web publishing, and are reasonably well established, are
ever going to go away. It is simply too easy to preserve upward
compatibility, and there's too much practical need to do so. As an
analogy: If you have FORTRAN programs written for the IBM 7090 in 1958
(as many scientists do), you can run them in Microsoft Fortran (an
obscure product, but it has its following) under Windows 2000 today.

A much more serious concern that I have about web publication is its
volatility. Once something is in print, it's in libraries and won't
go away. Web sites get taken down or (worse) their content gets
altered.
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Message 2: Re: 12.1466, Disc: Ethics of Web-based vs Paper Publications

Date: Fri, 1 Jun 2001 09:49:32 -0600
From: Martha McGinnis <mcginnisucalgary.ca>
Subject: Re: 12.1466, Disc: Ethics of Web-based vs Paper Publications


David Odden's point is well taken about the comparative
inaccessibility of web-based publications to scholars
in developing countries. However, I hope his understandable
dismay at the variety of platforms and mutually incompatible
applications will be somewhat allayed by the following.
Fonts can be 'embedded' in a PDF or PostScript file by
printing to a file instead of a printer, and choosing the
option to embed all non-standard fonts. PDF files can be
read using Adobe Acrobat Reader, which can be used on
virtually any platform (Mac, Windows, Unix, Latex, etc.) and
which is available for free at
http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html. PDF
files can be created using Adobe Acrobat (for font
inclusion, Distiller seems most useful), or for free by
submitting a PostScript file to PS2PDF.com at
http://www.ps2pdf.com/convert/index.htm.

However annoying the sometimes dubious 'advances' in
software may be, one thing manufacturers do strive for is
backwards compatibility. Scholars are fortunately not alone
in needing long-term access to documents, so perhaps it
isn't too much to hope that backwards compatibility will be
maintained for at least the next 100 years. But how easy is
it to consult academic sources from 1910 even now, at
universities that don't have extensive and long-standing
library collections? Since digital files take up so little
space and can be transmitted electronically, it is possible
that someday every linguist will have access to every
linguistics book and article ever published. To achieve
that, as David points out, we'll have to retain control
of our intellectual 'property'. My sense is that the
value of intellectual property has increased, now that it
is perceived (wrongly, to some extent) to be as easily
transferrable as other types of property. If so, this has
implications both for us and for our language consultants.
We should probably be studying North American land
treaties from a couple of centuries ago... I'll bet some
of our language consultants could teach us a thing or two
about the importance of maintaining property rights.

-Martha
_________________________________________________________
Dr. Martha McGinnis, Assistant Professor
Linguistics Department, SS 820 University of Calgary
2500 University Dr. NW, Calgary, AB T2N 1N4 CANADA
phone: (403) 220-6119, fax: (403) 282-3880
http://www.ucalgary.ca/~mcginnis/
_________________________________________________________
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Message 3: Re: 12.1466, Disc: Ethics of Web-based vs Paper Publications

Date: Fri, 1 Jun 2001 12:56:56 +0530
From: sharbani <sharbevsnl.net>
Subject: Re: 12.1466, Disc: Ethics of Web-based vs Paper Publications



Subject: Re: 12.1462, Disc: New: Ethics of Web-based vs Paper Publications

 RE Lev Michael's post on the ethics of different modes of publication:
 Linguist 12.1462
 & David Odden's point of view on the subject:

 In India even the printed material is so difficult to get. How
does one explain that? Jawahar Lal Nehru University, New Delhi did not
have Noam Chomsky's 'Syntactic Structures' in it's library until few
years back. It did not have the standard Syntax text books, what to
talk of many other very common Linguistics books. The same is the
story in most Indian Universities. Hence the students have to depend
on the Individual Collection of Professors or of some 'lucky students'
who manage to have them.

 One can decide to have a standard format for Web Publishing which
should not change so frequently.


Sharbani Banerji
sharbevsnl.net

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