Digitizing the Coin of the Realm
Electronic publication has transformed the culture of scientific communication
Imagine it’s 1991. You’ve just completed a series of exciting experiments in the lab and now it’s time to write up the results. You review the instructions for authors of the journal where you will submit your paper and you consult some rudimentary authorship guidelines published by your scientific society. You are even inspired to reread a few sections of Robert Day’s classic book How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper, then in its third edition. (It’s now in its sixth.) Engaging your coauthors, you work diligently for a few weeks to draft and revise your manuscript. Finally, you package the printed pages, attach the correct postage, and get ready to hoof it over to the campus postal drop. Before you leave your office, you power down your desktop computer. As its cooling fan turns quiet, you never imagine that in 20 years, you'll be able to carry orders of magnitude more computing power in your pocket.