Re: June 27 2004: The 1994 "Subversive Proposal" at 10

From: Eberhard R. Hilf <>
Date: Tue, 14 Sep 2004 22:31:07 +0100

This is to add to Stevan's very thoughtful reminiscences some of our
own experiences in physics concerning relations with publishers and OA.

In 1994 there were several workshops with participants from different
countries, organized by either Frank Laloe (CNRS, Univ. Paris Sud)
or myself in Oldenburg. Bob Kelly from APS and H.E.Roosendaal, the
strategic chief person from Elsevier Amsterdam, attended.

We got an invitation from Elsevier to Amsterdam and reported to the
Chief executive committee on the top floor. Beforehand, when they saw me
from the windows entering the building down below, someone quipped
"Here comes the death of Elsevier"; however, it was a very constructive
open discussion.

We had a committee -- 'Elfikom': electronic research information and
communication -- of which Springer was a member.

We had joint policy papers by Roosendaal (ES), Springer, IoPP, and
ourselves, on the future of distributed document databases, integrating
the physics self-archiving system PhysNethttp:// with joint
retrieval, etc.

We had a joint European Union Application DDD-Physics 'Multimedia
scientific Physics Document Database in Physics' with what was
(in retrospect) an impressive list of participants (CERN, Physics
societies, user groups, FIZ Karlsruhe (STN Database host), Rank Xerox,
Akademie Verlag, Elsevier, Springer Verlag in 1995. The link is of
course still there, although some links from there point to nowhere
now: the homepage
where you still can read the whole application.
(I will look for the password if asled.)

There were constructive discussions with APS, and IoPP.
The Action Committee for Publication and Scientific Communication
of the EPS had publisher members (IoPP and EDP).

But then it became clear that to take this approach was to drag our feet.
EPS remodeled its Action committee, no publisher members any more,
DDD was turned down by the EU, and PhysNet became autonomous.
Only now (for the past 1-2 years) can the retrieval engine include the
abstracts of all IoPP papers, thanks to a constructive agreement.

The elfikom
server is still there, started in 1995, and last changed in 2000.
Publisher Members were from Springer, Elsevier, Akademie Verlag, VCH,
Phys. Blaetter

A list of early activities of 1994/1995 was compiled in 1998:
The talks of 1994/1995 are also still there.
which recur to older activities.
And the papers,

The IuK Initiative Information and
Communication of the Learned Societies in Germany was founded in 1995.

Thus I conclude that the dissociation from the publishers occurred later,
in late 1998, when they began to leave in order to hold on to what they
had, and now they fight even harder to maintain toll access as long as
possible. Elsevier is going to court in Germany against the University
Libraries concerning document copy delivery. The Government intends to
forbid document copy delivery in future, allowing documents
to be viewed only on-screen in the library.

I still think that closer contact and bridge between publishers and
research University groups would have boosted technological development
much more than the present dissociation has done, and thus it would have
served the science process more. This would have meant focussing on
additional, new, innovative professional services and letting document
ownership (now called toll access) become free by embracing OA

Eberhard Hilf
Received on Tue Sep 14 2004 - 22:31:07 BST

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