The Influence of Modern Technology on Scientific Research and Communication:
How Much and How Fast?
Related papers, The Slow Evolution of Electronic Publishing
Silicon Dreams and Silicon Bricks: The Continuing Evolution of Libraries,
are available at
AT&T Labs Research
An old maxim says that people tend to overestimate what can be done in one year and to
underestimate what can be done in five or ten years. People are also very poor at
predicting long range effects of novel technologies. To a large extent this is caused by
the slow rate with which new approaches are adopted by society. Even in the age of the
internet, changes that affect basic habits of working and thinking do not occur overnight.
As a premier example, Mathematica has had a great impact on scientific research and
communication, but the full gains from it will take a long time to emerge.
Andrew Odlyzko is the head of the Mathematics and Cryptography Research
Department at AT&T Labs Research in Florham Park, New Jersey. He has authored the
widely quoted Tragic Loss of Good Riddance: The Impending Demise of Traditional Scholarly
Journals and The Decline of Unfettered Research. Odlyzko has also written numerous
technical papers in mathematics, computer science, and cryptography.