The good, the bad, and the expensive

In her Crossref LIVE18 Keynote speech this week, Coko’s Kristen Ratan questioned the sense of the industry’s continuing resignation to being locked in to costly, print-based, outdated workflows and technologies (some of which are now owned by competitor publishers).

“Publishers are mired in print paradigms, and legacy systems. We need to break out of silos.”

Kristen outlined the critical challenge the industry faces – in the context of the immediate need for climate change reversal, can we speed up scholarly communications for a faster research cycle in time?  These slow print systems, she argues, will not get us there.

“No single platform can meet all and future needs.”

Coko’s solution is a community-owned approach to infrastructure – sharing the development of the baseline infrastructure of our systems through open source technology, and innovating on the surface layer.

Kristen proposed: “We need to rethink our approach to infrastructure.  Right now you share only 10% of your infrastructure with services like Crossref and ORCID. Let’s have 90% of our infrastructure shared and 10% that is custom to your organization. That’s all you need in order to differentiate. With most of the infrastructure that is under the hood being shared and open, you can operate much more efficiently and reinvest those savings in innovation.”  

This approach has been transformative in other industries. Kristen referenced the shared infrastructure in industries such as banking and telecom.  Companies who compete head to head at the level of their branding and services are collaborating to achieve shared infrastructure solutions for the sake of their own and their customers’ efficiency. There are examples in open source as well, with OpenStack having almost the same market penetration as the closed source Amazon Web Services for cloud infrastructure.

“The key to open source infrastructure is community.”

Kristen commended other examples of collaboration in the industry, including Crossref, DataCite, ORCID, and Overleaf.

Finally, Coko’s modular, flexible approach to building open source software was introduced, with examples of how our partners are adopting and adapting Editoria for books and xPub for journals; and how technical teams are collaborating and rapidly advancing on the development of the underlying PubSweet framework, upon which their custom systems are built. Kristen explained how shared expertise from across the industry can expedite the development of complex systems, and when built through a modular framework, customization is achievable at a far lighter lift than many thought possible.

You can find Kristen’s slides available here.