Years ago, John Sack of HighWire Press predicted that publishing would become about “articles and attention.”
He was right. But it should have been pitched as a warning instead of embraced as an acceptable inevitability.
Its damage continues to degrade a once-great information space, and the foundations we built on are no longer solid.
For example, the recent announcement that the NLM is continuing to erode the importance of peer-review, editorial review, and editorial selection by validating preprints of NIH-funded studies — written by an employee who has a history of being influenced by SPARC, a project of a lobbying firm — is yet another symptom that the NLM has become an unreliable player in the intellectual space, vulnerable to lobbyists, and a devotee of the article economy.
Clarivate’s similarly misguided and corrosive decision to create an impact metric for preprints is another consequence of an article economy run amuck, and a generation of leaders seeking something other than quality.
In that vein, I’ll focus today on the damage done to our intellectual economy and sense of self by a focus on attention as the coin of the information realm.