Online & Paper

Martin Haspelmath haspelmath at EVA.MPG.DE
Sat Nov 29 07:05:38 UTC 2008

Archives like AILLA and PRADISEC are a good solution for digital data, 
but we may also want to access our analyses, i.e. our books and journal 
articles, in several decades' time. So we also need to think about the 
permanence of digital scientific publications.

Open-access online publications like WALS Online ( and 
eLanguage ( are aware of these issues and 
avoid proprietary software. But in my view, scholars and science 
administrators have not sufficiently addressed the issue of financing 
such more sustainable publication forms.

Mouton de Gruyter's ReferenceGlobal is financed by Mouton de Gruyter's 
customers, which at the moment are getting a good deal, it seems to me. 
Currently Mouton is a family-owned business that wants to make a living 
by serving science. But what if Mouton de Gruyter is bought up by a 
shareholder-owned company like Elsevier, Springer or Taylor & Francis? 
These companies want to make big profits for their shareholders, so we 
should be skeptical about their role in science. And we have no idea how 
long-lasting their electronic platform will be.


Nick Thieberger schrieb:
> This is a very good point and exactly why linguists should be building
> digital archives that will curate digital data over time. If we have
> learned anything over the past decades it is that proprietary software
> creates data in forms that cannot easily be accessed or reused over
> time. We also know that digital data is extremely fragile and needs to
> be stored in a number of locations on media that will be continually
> updated. The international inititiatives OLAC
> ( and Delaman ( aim to
> provide support for such archives and examples are PARADISEC
> ( (with which I am associated) or AILLA
> (
> Nick
> Nick Thieberger
> Assistant Professor
> Language Documentation and Conservation
> Department of Linguistics
> University of Hawai'i at Manoa
> 1890 East-West Road
> Honolulu, HI 96822
> 2008/11/28 Gideon Goldenberg <msgidgol at>:
>> Is there any chance that online materials or electronic files of today will
>> be readable ten years from now let alone twenty years? The changes in the
>> equipment and techniques may be even faster than in the last two decade.
>> On 28 Nov 2008, at 6:6, Frans Plank wrote:
>>> By the way, in case you haven't noticed, thanks to Mouton de Gruyter's new
>>> reference tool, ReferenceGlobal, those of you who read LT online are
>>> nowadays getting a head start on the old-fashioned paper journal readers
>>> like me.  See
>>> and get the hitlist of the "Top 20 Most Accessed Articles" into the
>>> bargain.
>>> Frans Plank

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