[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

RE: Critique of OA metric

I worked for two entrepreneurial organizations that operated in 
contradiction to your point about brand snowballing.  I was with 
a software developer for 12 years and our business, over time, 
evolved from operating under the radar of the big guy, to 
offering value-adding services to his clients in a business 
alliance with him, to taking progressively bigger clients away 
from him.  When I worked for a market research firm, the owner 
often said that he could make a business just following the big 
guys around and picking up their dissatisfied customers.  On the 
other hand, we do very often see new firms colonize new business 
areas, but it seems to me they do all that work to find the most 
profitable models, only to give the big guys an advantage when 
they come in later (either copying the successful models, but 
from a bigger cash base, or more usually on M&A binges).

Brand awareness, which often gets conflated with other terms in 
poorly constructed brand studies, is something very different 
from satisfaction, and heck, even satisfaction is not necessarily 
a reliable indicator of future growth or even client retention. 
Anyway, other examples abound, didn't yahoo once rule the 
internet?  Wasn't blockbuster an unassailable cash cow when it 
was sold to viacom?  We could go on ...

My personal standpoint is that business models must always evolve 
because conditions are always changing.  Firms either evolve or 
they lose out -- what they sell must change, as well as how they 
sell it, at least in tech-impacted sectors. That's one reason 
"journal" publishing is so interesting right now.  I also think 
that the new guy has many distinct advantages -- or a lack of the 
kind of disadvantages that tend to build up over time (overhead 
in its many guises).  The worst disadvantage to incumbency is 
thinking that the way you do it is the way it has to be done.  I 
think this is one reason why entrepreneurs tend to be business 

Actually, though, I wanted to respond because I like what you 
said about the price of scholarly publishing going up, since this 
is another way of saying that more and more value is being added 
-- and, as you mentioned, the value is now being added in a 
community model for some venues.  Commercial firms can hire 
professionals to invest in development.  Or models can be 
developed which utilize online communities, such as open source 
and new media development communities, or local communities (such 
as university published journal whether OA or not, though 
probably OA given our current zeitgeist ... it's hard to attract 
community effort without also being a good neighbor).


-----Original Message-----
From: owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
[mailto:owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu] On Behalf Of Joseph Esposito
Sent: Monday, November 02, 2009 5:28 PM
To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
Subject: Re: Critique of OA metric

You have to have a highly metaphoric sense of the term "database"
to consider a journal a database.

David and I have a different view of what PLOS One is up to.
Most people see PLOS as an activist organization operating in the
area of open access publishing.  I see it as a prominently
branded organization that is moving away from rigorous peer
review.  It appears that advocates of OA are seeing in PLOS One
what they want to see.  That's their business.

As for search-engine rank, wrappers, etc., yep, you can build
higher ranking in any number of ways, personal tagging
("folksonomy") among them.  No quarrel there.  Nothing in my
earlier post was meant to imply that there were not other ways to
confer higher search-engine ranking, nor did I suggest that OA
publications necessarily trailed traditional publications in
ranking.  My argument is agnostic as to OA.

But to recapitulate:  what's at issue here is known as "the law
of increasing returns," aka "the rich get richer," about which
see the work of economist Brian Arthur.  It is possible to build
new brands--thank the good lord for that!  It is harder to build
them in areas that are already well established.  If someone
wanted to build a new brand in research publishing, the best
place to start is with an area of research that has few or no
well-established incumbents.

Incumbency has its virtues.  I saw a surprising study a few years
ago about the GE brand for small household appliances (toasters,
microwave ovens, etc.).  GE sold off that business to Black &
Decker.  Years later, after the GE brand had been fully retired
from that segment of the marketplace, consumers responding to a
survey reported that GE was the most trusted brand in the

All this leads to the essential corollary:  to establish any kind
of information service, a large sum of money, typically in the
form of professional labor, has to be committed.  In legacy media
this is called marketing, in new media this is called community.
The price of scholarly communications keeps going up.

Joe Esposito