Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Nature Got "Wired" and You Could Be Next

We’ve taken on the job of constantly monitoring the “Big Stuff” Radar Screen to let you know about emerging topics or developments that someday will be finding their way into your work day.

And since chances are good that your desk or credenza isn’t holding a copy of Wired Magazine (circ. 532,491 monthly) or the weekly scientific journal Nature, here is our alert to some September radar pings involving both publications. Right now they’re just small news dots, but they eventually may produce explosive developments affecting your business.

First off, the September issue of Wired scooped the pants off the Wall Street Journal by reporting weeks ahead of the WSJ on a pioneering Internet initiative by Nature. That news coup reinforces our long-held belief that heads-up business executives should read Wired to understand and stay abreast of the fast-evolving web and wireless culture.

Just as noteworthy as that scoop is the groundbreaking news: The prestigious, British-owned Nature is reaching far beyond its private, time-honored peer review process by inviting, via the web, every scientist in the world to comment on prospective scientific articles. Once the Wall Street Journal newsies got wind of the action (maybe they read Wired), they reported the facts and gave the story prominent play.

As of September 15, Nature had printed 34 comments from the scientific community on the types of articles which previously were vetted only in private and with each document scrutinized by three experts who are picked by editors and remain anonymous. Only after such traditional review were articles included in the printed, magazine-style Nature journal.

Before finding out what this means to you, you might want to read here about the pioneering Nature experiment, the debate it sparked, and an example of the outsider comments on one article.

Now, why is this Nature development the least bit important to you? Because it adds fuel to the mounting possibility that the “let’s invite the world on the web” model eventually will be tested by companies looking for product feedback, market research and all manner of public response. This model, a form of what they call “crowd-sourcing,” is best seen in wikipedia online encyclopedia with it constantly-updated material contributed solely by web users.

Annette Thomas, managing director of the Nature Publishing Group that owns the journal, notes in a letter to its audience that the company is preparing for a “new era” and that the “balance of rights” has shifted away from publishers.”

Says Thomas: “Blogs and podcasts now enable any individual to reach a global audience. Delivering real value in such times is challenging. Web 2.0 is about inclusion, participation and self expression.”

We think this constitutes handwriting on the wall. At the very least, it demands attention.

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