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Re: Article based subscription


The one doesn't replace the other; online searching and manual browsing
are two very different activities.  Boolean searching is extremely
powerful in some ways, and frustratingly limited in others.  Its very
specificity makes retrieval too narrow to allow the type of chance
discovery in a subject-limited paper journal that browsing can provide.
Serendipity has been difficult to achieve in the electronic domain and is
both a value and very pleasurable experience that is largely lost in
databases like Medline or Biosis, or in the online catalog. Perhaps
improved future online systems will find a way to reinstate this feature,
but apparently not everyone recognizes its value.  It is the very fact
that the interesting article found by chance is not closely related to the
type you might have been looking for that makes serendipity useful and
important. This isn't nostalgia, simply an observation of the real world.

The problem is, in part, that the very chance nature of serendipity makes
it an extremely hard subject to research, although I'm sure there is a
significant literature on it.  I know there is in science, where
serendipity has been found, as the saying goes, to favor the prepared

Anyway, this was only an aside to my main point: That publishers are not
prepared to offer contracts that exchange pay-per-use contracts for
subscription based income.


At 15:18 09/14/1999 -0400, you wrote:
>This reminds me of the laments for the card catalog, in which one could
>browse and find things serendipitously adjacent to each other.  It is a
>value, but is counterbalanced by the ease of finding disparate items
>through powerful search capabilities.  The interest in powerful search
>will here too, I think, supersede the serendipity value of finding
>articles by accident in journals--especially since the articles are often
>not really very related to each other.  This is not to say that posting of
>contents pages, highlights, bibliographies is not worth while.  --pg
>Lloyd Davidson wrote [i.a.]:
> > Such a policy would also inhibit serendipity and the casual scanning of
> > articles that most researchers find invaluable. Indeed, having a journal
> > in hand to thumb through is of real value, especially those specific to
> > your field of interest.  Database searches are simply not an adequate
> > alternative for browsing.
>NOTE PHONE NUMBER CHANGE (former -2573 will work before 5 p.m.)
>Peter Graham    Syracuse University Library    psgraham@syr.edu
>Syracuse, NY 13244-2010 315/443-5530 fax 315/443-2060 7/99nw4.4