The Influence of Modern Technology on Scientific Research and Communication: How Much and How Fast?

Andrew Odlyzko
AT&T Labs Research

Related papers, The Slow Evolution of Electronic Publishing and Silicon Dreams and Silicon Bricks: The Continuing Evolution of Libraries, are available at

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.