From Publishing to Knowledge Networks: Reinventing Online Knowledge Infrastructures

Mae Keary (Scott‐Keary Consultants)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Article publication date: 1 August 2004




Keary, M. (2004), "From Publishing to Knowledge Networks: Reinventing Online Knowledge Infrastructures", Online Information Review, Vol. 28 No. 4, pp. 313-313.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

The basic argument of this book is that scientific publishing appears to be too mired in tradition, and Hars sets out to prove that the capabilities of IT could fundamentally change the way in which scientists create, organise and disseminate knowledge. He traces the history of knowledge and uses four dates relating to the invention of writing, paper, the printing press and the electronic computer to illustrate the revolutions of IT on science. His claim is that the present revolution may lead to major changes in the printing process, such as a change in the unit used for storing and manipulating scientific knowledge, the form it takes, and greater use of alternative indexes and interfaces.

The second chapter shows that IT has the potential to change scientific communication systems, in particular the processes for traditional journal publishing. The result could be an electronic document that supports multiple media in an integrated way. The organisational perspective is looked at from the view of stakeholders, and seven of these are recognised: authors, editors, reviewers, readers, libraries, publishers and distributors, but not indexers. Hars then declares that the fate of the last three is uncertain and may affect economic objectives, thus leading to changes in academic publishing that sees the concept of “a mature electronic journal” realised. The final section discusses and analyses Internet sites dedicated to scientific knowledge and describes their characteristics: mode of interaction, structure of knowledge, presentation, governance and technology.

In chapter 3 Hars sets out his own methodology for structuring knowledge. First the general concept of “knowledge” is examined and this is used as the basis for identifying a generic “unit of scientific knowledge” and for determining its attributes. From this a conceptual model of scientific knowledge is derived, consisting of different categories, their relationships and properties.

The final chapter discusses the implications of the ideas advanced in this book and proposes a feasibility of knowledge infrastructures that depart significantly from the traditional model. The author's Internet‐based infrastructure called “information systems cybrarium” is available for experimentation via the Internet at:

This book is aimed at the academic community and is not an easy read, but it examines a large number of different initiatives that aim to create, share and distribute knowledge electronically. It also rethinks the related processes and shows that IT has the potential of being much more revolutionary than just enabling established publishing and review processes. The ultimate aim of this book is to provide guidance to those who are developing their own knowledge infrastructures and networks. It is challenging and pushes out the boundaries, but some of these seem too idealistic and unattainable.

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