Re: Electronic archiving and IIS talk

From: Chris Armstrong <>
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 2000 15:11:01 +0100

Steve Hitchcock <> wrote:

> misunderstanding implied in your comments. It has never
> been the role of those who provide access to
> information, librarians or publishers, to FIX
> content, i.e. to select a particular version, but to
> enable users to MAKE SENSE of it. In the e-environment
> that includes versioning, allowing updates, creating
> links to subsequent and related works, etc. It's a
> continual process. Fixing versions is an artefact of
> print.

Well, not a misunderstanding really. I don't think I implied censorship
or filtering but rather a refining to the final authoritative version.
In that sense, once published a text is so defined and perhaps this
does FIX it in some way, but this only helps scholars to make sense of
it by giving it stability and authority. Something lacking from
preprints which can only be cited in the knowledge that a later -
possibly significantly changed - version will supersede it.

> Why seek to diminish the role of eprints when these
> issues apply to all electronic publishing? People on
> this list are finding solutions to these questions,
> acting on just these issues, and building new services:
> they are not a road block.

I have no wish to diminish - I am an advocate of all forms of
electronic publishing - but I do want the route chosen to be secure. I
raised the queries in the interests of scholarly debate. It is one
thing for the knowledgeable among us to locate and use versions and
updates, but we have to recognise that naive users and less skilled
searchers may place undue authority in the wrong version. My concern is
to ensure that the path we take does not produce information rich/poor
and information fortunate/unfortunate.

> This is not 92/3. There is substantial experience of
> eprint/electronic publishing now, so we don't need to
> invent problems. What real examples are there of this?

True, but misuse and accidental alterations still happen. I have a
colleague who had an paper copied from his web site and re-published
without his permission; it was never updated, etc as was the original
and several errors were introduced. Graham also makes the point that
inadvertent errors can be introduced if version control is poor. Maybe
in an ideal world these things should not happen but I think we have a
duty to attempt to foresee and guard against introducing problems like
Y2K! The Web is used by millions and not all consider the validity of
the resources they capture. Some recent research has shown just how
little graduate and postgraduate students actually consider information

> managed eprints supported by managed QC publishing is
> the opportunity to make things a great deal clearer.
> More access is better, not worse.

Provided that the management make version control and authority level
clear and facilitates access to the most recent copy. Without some very
careful control, more access will make things very much worse.

> The old framework needs to change, not the other way
> round.


And now we have to consider future-proofed archiving, future-proofed
access, bibliographic control and warehousing maintenance.

Chris Armstrong
Centre for Information Quality Management (CIQM)
(+44) 1974 251441
Received on Mon Jan 24 2000 - 19:17:43 GMT

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