Letter to the Editor, October 2002

Title: Letter to the Editor
Publication: The Outcrop, October 2002, p. 22-23

Dear Editor(s),

John Robinson, in his September column, made some statements about both the AAPG digital aggregate and the proposed Geoscience Publications Aggregate which do not really reflect the intent or arrangement of either aggregate. I only briefly mentioned this at my August luncheon talk. The intersociety Publications Aggregate is an effort by societies ALL over the world to both forward publish and to publish their archives in a digital format that is seamlessly searchable and keyword searchable. All societies will have appropriate compensation for their digits…no one has been asked to “give” their digits away.

The ‘vision’ is for geologic and earth science publications to be accessible with the greatest ease by geologists all over the world. It would be a shame for RMAG’s outstanding publications not to be accessible in this worldwide publications aggregate. I am sure that our own Rocky Mountain geologists would like to have this potential to search and research themselves.

The biologists have done this already and 40-50 biological journals are seamlessly searchable through “BioOne”. Our goal is to do more than the biologists…and include our associations’ archives, because geologists value and use older geologic publications frequently in their research.

AAPG is part of the GeoScience Publications Aggregate, but also has its own aggregate effort working to help their affiliated societies get digitized their archives. They, in fact, have been raising money to spend on digitizing the digits of societies like RMAG. They have offered to assist RMAG in funding and digitizing. They have already done this with CSPG, GCAGS, SEPM, NOGS, Lafayette, Ardmore and Panhandle. Other groups are talking to AAPG constantly about doing the same. All of these societies have enjoyed substantial financial help from AAPG and they SHARE in the revenues from sales! They did not ‘give’ their digits away.

The real advantage with going with AAPG and the Geoscience aggregate (neither are exclusive) is that their method of digitizing is superior to scanning in a pdf format…the pdf format, which RMAG is opting for, has limits to their server environments, cannot be searched as robustly, has size limitations and cross referencing limitations. AAPG’s offer to help RMAG would get this done without additional fundraising burden, would produce a better product that is ready for the future in digits. Using a pdf format will mean that RMAG digits will not have the same utility as either aggregate (the range of Boolean search operators and the opportunity for cross-referencing) if later RMAG does decide to join an aggregate.

Robbie Gries

Editors’ response:

The Publications Committee has reviewed variations on the “Aggregate” proposal from AAPG several times over the past three years and has rejected it for two compelling reasons: 1) the cost to RMAG for AAPG to scan all RMAG publications is estimated at $90,000, which is about a quarter of the annual RMAG operating budget; and 2) as a result of paying AAPG to digitize RMAG publications, AAPG would equally share in the copyright and revenue of all RMAG publications, allowing AAPG to publish any RMAG publications at will. While the RMAG views its publications as a valuable asset that should be shared with the geoscience community, the society is unwilling to commit a quarter of its operating budget to an effort that may compromise that asset. In two years time, neither the RMAG nor AAPG has been able to “iron out” specific details of an arrangement or a written agreement of financial assistance with this project. In the meantime, the Publications Committee has embarked on a less costly effort to get all RMAG publications scanned into a searchable digital format over time.

The Publications Committee is strongly committed to converting all RMAG publications into digital format for the purpose of archiving the publications and for making the resulting files accessible to the geologic community. In this effort, several options have been reviewed. Based on this review, the committee has opted to follow the model used by the SPWLA in its effort to digitize 20,000 pages of conference proceedings. This procedure includes scanning of existing guidebooks into both .PDF and .TIF files, translating the .TIF files into text files, and then combining the high-quality .PDF scan with the searchable text file into a final digital product. It is anticipated that a CD containing 3000 to 6000 pages of text and figures will be produced every six months for the next three years, which will then be marketed at a very reasonable cost to interested geologists. Eventually, the digital version will be placed on the web following the specifications as yet to be determined by the Geosciences Publications Aggregate. The advantages of this route include superior quality of scans, dramatically less cost, robust searchability, better quality control, and the eventual transformation of the data into a web-accessible product.

The RMAG Publications Committee appreciates the efforts by the AAPG in this regard; however, in this instance the committee has opted to follow a different course. The committee acknowledges the many joint projects the RMAG has entered into with the AAPG in the past and are looking forward to participating in other joint publishing ventures in the future. Anyone who is interested in the digital conversion project is strongly encouraged to attend the Publications Committee meetings or voice your opinion to the Publications Chair, Elmo Brown (email moby.colo@worldnet.att.net).