I am sure you do not need reminding of the flood of scientific information that is available today and the estimates of its growth in the next two decades. In 1967, Olaf Helmer, then Senior Mathematician at the Rand Corporation, forecast that scientists and engineers would increase from five million, in 1967, to twenty‐five million by the year 2000 and their total productivity would go up by a factor of ten. He declined to assess the associated growth of, and need for, scientific information but merely stated that there would be substantial changes in the way in which science would actually be transacted. It is these ‘substantial changes’ that concern the publisher, editor, information scientist and librarian, because if we do not anticipate—or at least keep pace with these changes—then we will not be able to meet the information needs of our readers and we will become redundant. Scientific information is a growing industry and it would be ironic if we could not survive amid an abundance of information. I regard the chance to do something about the flow of information as a response to opportunity, not as an act of desperation. The big problem is to sort out what is pertinent among this information and, in this world of rapid change, select and develop the technological devices that will match the needs of the scientist to this mass of information. As a first step, I suggest we should define an ideal information system so that our progress can be planned and measured against the best possible datum.
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