Technological Change and the Scholarly Communications Reform Movement: Reflections on Castells and Giddens
Association for Library Collections & Technical Services
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Reconceiving and reorganizing library collection development practices around the evolving processes and products of the scholarly communications cycle has become one of our profession's fundamental opportunities. However, our increasing use of market mechanisms and digital technologies to rationalize the production and distribution of scholarly information poses significant risk that business cycles and the obsolescence of hardware and software will lead to the inadvertent loss of significant portions of our intellectual heritage. This article introduces a theoretical framework for understanding the relationship between academic culture and digital technology as they relate to scholarly communication and library collection development, drawing chiefly on the work of the social theorists Daniel Bell, Manuel Castells, and Anthony Giddens. The article suggests that Castells' theory of the network society and Giddens's account of disembedding, expert systems, and risk as hallmark features of modern society together point us toward a more candid recognition that the fragility of digital systems and the resulting possibility of significant cultural loss are intrinsic features of the new landscape of scholarly communication. Moreover, acknowledging this risk is an important dimension of successful reform of the scholarly publishing system.
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