Tuesday, 22 January 2019

AI, Blockchain, Open Source - separating the value from the hype


AI, Blockchain and Open Source are terms which continually grab attention, but are they merely buzzwords or will they really disrupt our industry? Ahead of our planned series of webinars on this subject, Jennifer Schivas of 67 Bricks and Nisha Doshi of Cambridge University Press consider how to distinguish hype from reality, and why publishers should care...

AI, Blockchain and Open Source have been generating a lot of attention in the press over the past few years, and high profile announcements from the likes of eLife, Elsevier and Digital Science generate a lot of excitement, but can these technologies really help us improve publishing processes and enhance customer experience?  Can they save us money or help us offer new products and services to authors and researchers?  If so, how do we engage at the right level and the right speed?  How do we ensure the opportunity, if there is one, doesn’t become a threat?

Working at the coal face of publishing innovation means that these are questions we wrestle with on a day-to-day basis, and when we spoke to others at the 2018 ALPSP conference we realised we weren’t alone. Across the industry many of us are exploring options, running pilots, launching products, platforms and systems and putting in place strategies that utilise these new technologies. Some are dipping their toes in the water, while others are diving right in. However, at the other end of the spectrum there are those who dismiss these technologies as mere trends or buzzwords: AI has been around since the 1950s afterall, and isn’t Blockchain regularly described as “just a slow database”?!

So, who is right and who is wrong?  This debate will be at the heart of the forthcoming series of ALPSP webinars, in which we’ll invite industry experts to examine each technology in turn to help us separate the hype from the reality.

In each webinar we will include a short, jargon-free introduction to the technologies and discuss examples of where they are already being used in our industry. We’ll then assess their potential for positive change as well as considering alternative courses of action - which could even include “do nothing” - and look at the recommended first steps publishers can take to begin capitalising on opportunities.

We believe that it is important for publishers to engage with these technologies and make clear decisions with their eyes open. It is not usually wise to invest in cutting edge technology for technology’s sake alone, however there are ways to trial them without undue expense or risk; R&D programmes, pilot projects or collaborative partnerships can all work well.  We will explore how these might be set up to test the waters and release some early benefits before making a major investment or committing to a long-term path.

Join us to start a clear conversation and to begin to separate the hype from the reality. You’ll come away with a better understanding of what these technologies offer in the short, medium and long term, how they might align with wider product, platform or technology strategy, and if and how they might help meet customer needs. There will never be one single answer or one size fits all… so we look forward to some lively conversation!

To find out more about the planned webinars or to book your place please visit https://www.alpsp.org/Webinars/What-is-Hype/62872




Jennifer Schivas Jennifer Schivas is Head of Strategy and Industry Engagement at 67 Bricks, a technology company that helps publishers become more data driven www.67bricks.com









Nisha Doshi
Nisha Doshi is Senior Digital Development Publisher at Cambridge University Press, where she leads the digital publishing team across academic books and journals www.cambridge.org


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