Backlit Nautilus ShellImage by mindseyeimagery via Flickr

The other day I got a LinkedIn group alert from Andrew Spong linking to an article in The Journal of Electronic Publishing entitled Open Access 2.0: Access to Scholarly Publications Moves to a New Phase, by Joseph J. Esposito.

His "Nautilus Model of Scholarly Communications" was a brilliant way to provide a foundation for discussion.  The model is illustrated in the article cited above, but he introduced it in Open Access 2.0 published in The Scientist.

At the "innermost spiral of the shell of a nautilus, where a particular researcher wishes to communicate with a handful of intimates and researchers working in precisely the same area" is where he proposes Open Access is most viable.   He goes on to posit that at "each step away from the center, the role of the publisher grows and the merits of open access diminish."

At the core of the model is the degree to which the participants in the particular ring of the spiral are known to each other.  At the center, they know each other quite well.  As we move out, they do not and "…the publisher's brand is a form of insurance" to the consumer, insurance against wasting time (and, potentially, money).  

Thinking about the widening rings of the nautilus shell as decreasing degrees of familiarity, it seems as though this model is useful to consider more broadly.

  • What kinds of products are valuable to [small] networks whose members are very familiar with one another?
  • What kinds of products are valuable to networks whose members are NOT familiar with one another?
  • What kinds of supporting services are needed in each type of network?
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