Always In Pursuit of Attention

The article economy is damaging enough, but when combined with the attention economy, our priorities really change

Always In Pursuit of Attention

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.

The erosion of community-centered publishing by obeisance to the article economy is something I’ve talked about plenty.

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.