Literature in focus: Paul Ginsparg

Paul Ginsparg, professor of physics, computing and information science at Cornell University, is best known as the creator of an online system for distributing scientific research results. Known by scientists around the world as "", the system was designed to distribute electronic copies of the preprints that until 17 years ago were all distributed on paper and shipped in their thousands by the postal services. Ginsparg, at the time based at Los Alamos, carried out this work in his spare time using surplus equipment!

It is amusing to look backwards and observe how this new technology was perceived in the beginning: In early 1994 Ginsparg happened to serve on a committee advising the American Physical Society (APS) about putting Physical Review Letters online. He suggested that a Web interface along the lines of the prototype might be a good way for the APS to disseminate its documents. A response came back from another committee member: "Installing and learning to use a World Wide Web browser is a complicated and difficult task — we can’t possibly expect this of the average physicist." So the APS went with a different (and short-lived) platform.

Since then the landscape of scientific publishing has - fortunately - fully changed. On Monday 10 November Paul Ginsparg will give a seminar at CERN entitled ‘Open Access: From Myth to Paradox’. In this seminar Ginsparg will discuss the opportunities implied by open access. He will also highlight straightforward applications of existing ideas and services, including citation analysis, collaborative filtering, external database linkages, interoperability, and other forms of automated markup. The seminar concludes with his speculations on the sociology of the next generation of users. An appealing seminar for all researchers and those involved in scientific communication - given by one of the pioneers in electronic publishing, a man who is still pushing for more to come.

CERN Main Auditorium, 10 November, 15:30