Read with interest Tanmoy and your comments on e-journals. I think he
misses a crucial point in the discussion regarding who archives what
etc. But then so do you in your remarks about tokens. It seems to me
that the key point is that:
A journal is a selected collection of links.
These links are to be sifted out of a number of submissions by a bunch
of referees and editors. It is up to the author to ensure the
readability and portability of these links.
As regards volatility---perhaps the real solution is to let the
original documents stay on the disks of the writers. As regards
the possibility of tampering with a paper the magic-cookie idea could
be used here to authenticate a particular version of the paper.
An author could then also re-locate his link by sending a message to
the corresponding journal which could then check (via magic-cookie)
that this re-located paper is indeed the original one. (Is there a
possibility of having some redundancy built into the HTML stuff so
that if one can't reach one node then another can be made available?)
The advantage of this scheme would be that
1. The onus of maintaining the paper in distributable form would
rest with the author--as in my opinion it should be.
2. The onus of verifying the paper's authenticity and scientific
content would rest with the journal--again as in my opinion
In addition, there is no reason (other than copyright) why a paper
should not appear in many journals. A paper could simultaneously be of
interest to Number Theoreticians and Algebraic Geometers and could
appear in the Journals for both these areas so that specialists in
either discipline would not miss it. Since the actual link would be the
same non one need be confused into thinking that there are two papers.
As regards publishing the same results in a number of papers, well it
can happen even now and has to be weeded out by the refereeing process.
The main problem as yet un-addressed is that the idea here is being
mooted by a bunch of young(?)sters. How does one get a sufficient
number of accepted seniors to agree to be referees? How does one
ensure that such "publication" will be given sufficient value in the
schemes of evaluation? Perhaps the answer is that this could be run as
a duplicate system (in addition to real (rain forest) paper
publication) until it acquires sufficient strength---this can only
work if the electronic journals do not insist on "copyright".