Peter Sefton (PT) is leaving Toowoomba – http://ptsefton.com/2011/03/24/onwards.htm. We talked about it while he was here but the news was only public this week. PT has been part of our past and will be part of our future – don’t know where, don’t know when, but it’s inevitable. The web brings people together and keeps them together.
PT has had a fairly unique group in academia – a service group with satisfied customers and also able to innovate. The group – which developed a new generation of authoring tools and document/information management – was of critical mass and critical quality. Run very efficiently without the political overhead of the large educational infrastructure projects that often go so slowly.
We worked last week with PT to develop scholarlyHTML (http://blogs.ch.cam.ac.uk/pmr/2011/03/20/scholarly-html-%E2%80%93-latest-thoughts/ ) – the philosophy, the tools, the culture, the content. It needs all of those. PT’s group has developed tools that are beyond anything else the world has. They help us usher in a new approach to scholarly communication – humans and machines.
The great thing is that the tools are Open. That means that wherever PT is he – and we – can work with an on those tools. They aren’t tied down by restrictive regulations and licences. They are his gift to the world and possibly a means of support.
It’s not easy changing the world. There is no guarantee of success – and success requires hard work – often extremely hard work – at unpleasant hours and with immediate deadlines. There is the constant reworking – the demos of two years ago do not work today – they need refactoring. But each refactoring, tedious though it is, leads to increased quality.
Yesterday I felt that after 16 years CML had finally “made it” (http://blogs.ch.cam.ac.uk/pmr/2011/03/23/quixote-cml-is-now-an-infrastructure-for-computational-chemistry/ ). There will come a time in the next few years when ScholarlyHTML – PT’s vision – will have “made it”. We cannot predict where or when, but I am certain its time will come, just as I felt CML’s would.
Now is the time to believe and work towards it.