Letter to the Editor – Conflicting goals at C&EN, It ought to separate from ACS

Dear Editor and the C&EN community:

I was visiting your cne.acs.org pages recently and was encouraged to sign up for “The week’s most essential chemistry news, distilled to your inbox“. So I have been receiving emails weekly it seems. Today I clicked on something interesting. only to be challenged with “You have hit your article limit of 1 for this month. Act now to get more.” Does someone there not understand there are 4 weeks in a month? And a weekly email means 4 per month? If you have my email, that is not an anonymous visitor any more.

Such a shallow “Pay us right from the very start just to learn who we are and what we are doing”.

There are 2 Billion children from 4 to 24 now, learning for the first time. About 800 Million humans in the world over 65. And billions in the world who cannot afford the smallest of your fees, just might well be the future of the human species.

Please consider your future. Are a few dollars, based on some model of “earn from publishing articles on paper” relevant or appropriate for a global Internet world now? About 5 Billion humans now using the Internet. Even after 25 years with the Internet Foundation, I am not completely sure who those other 3 Billion might be, and what they are doing.  I see much of the worlds news and data, and endless appeals for tens of thousands of urgent issues. And as many “follow us, hire us, buy from us, listen to us, donate to us”.

Are these things relevant to your readers? Are these things relevant to your community? I separate them because the world is not trying to make passive readers, consumers, buyers as much any more. It is moving toward lifelong learners, lifelong global collaborators. That old saw about lifetime jobs went away long ago.  Now individuals might be working on dozens of projects distributed around the world, and more “somewhere in or near the solar system”.

I think C&E News ought to be more “Chemical and Engineering Facilitators – to find and help the whole human species use knowledge for the good of all. If you are doing a good job, then donations might be more heartfelt and re-enforcing than any demands or begging for subscription fees.

I can probably give you a plan or outline for global Internet development.  Just looking at ( “chemical industry” OR “chemical industries” OR “industrial chemistry” ) it has 83.7 Million entry points. And (site:cen.acs.org) has 65,200 entry points — all effectively inaccessible to the Internet because of one thoughtless programmer.

That challenge says “The key to knowledge is in your (nitrile-gloved) hands” so I am certain that ACS owning C&E News is a huge mistake for global society.  It is ACS grasping with its (nitrile-gloved) hands and refusing to be open, sharing and collaborative with ALL humans, not just a few.

Even the greediest library or pay-per-view movie site on the Internet will give you the title, authors, abstract, and author affiliations. A preview and outline.  You are supposed to be promoting the people and groups in the Industry.  Helping the world to connect and use chemistry, not just hide away and throw up more roadblocks.  The article I wanted to read was “Printable polymer with tunable structural color” to send to someone who might be interested in that.

You do know that most people will completely stop if they are delayed for a minute, or less?  Particularly if it is an obnoxious splash page asking you to join a group or pay a few dollars even before seeing what is being said. I think your authors, corporations and groups publish in your paper and online magazines to be seen, to create networks, for find new applications and collaborators – not for some hidden clerk at ACS to charge a fee.  You are not some spiders in a web. Now you need to be hunters, explorers, innovators, collaborators, inventors, facilitators – constantly challenging yourselves and constantly reaching out to the new generations and the old and those working hard every day.

Richard Collins, The Internet Foundation

Richard K Collins

About: Richard K Collins

Director, The Internet Foundation Studying formation and optimized collaboration of global communities. Applying the Internet to solve global problems and build sustainable communities. Internet policies, standards and best practices.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *