[CLUG-announce] [job ad] Contract developer wanted

Thomas Andrews tandrews at grok.co.za
Mon Sep 12 10:50:36 SAST 2005

----- Forwarded message from Randhir Rawatlal <r2 at chemeng.uct.ac.za> -----

From: Randhir Rawatlal <r2 at chemeng.uct.ac.za>
Subject: RE: new electronic publications concept for setup in chemical engineering

Server implementation of prototype software

A new concept in electronic publishing based on the open-source philosophy
has been developed. Prototype software written in Python was tested on a
windows-based server. The requirement is now to implement the system on a
Linux-based server, possibly with extensions to the functionality of the

A description of the system follows. Note that a patent has been registered
for this invention.

Description of concept:

I describe here how publications such as books and articles can be organized
in an electronic archive that constantly evaluates the quality of its
contents and pays the authors according to the quality of their work and the
degree to which their work is accessed.  
I invented the system out of my own frustrations with publishing through
academic journals and the internet. I find that journal publications involve
long time delays and don't convey the ideas contained in articles to a large
enough audience. The internet is a potential solution since access to a
large audience is quick and easy. But there is currently no means of
assessing how credible the material uploaded on a website is. The system I
propose here is an attempt to combine the best of both worlds, i.e. the
credibility of journals with the speed and accessibility of the internet.

The basis of the system I propose is its rating structure. Each article has
ratings in a number of different fields, where fields such as art, history,
science, or perhaps the entire Dewey Decimal range, apply. An article's
rating in a field is a weighted average of the ratings given by its readers
in that field, depending how highly rated those readers are. 
For example, we would not expect an artist without an  engineering
background to be able change the engineering rating of an article on optimal
pipe sizes. Similarly, we would not expect an engineer without an art
background to be able to change the rating of an arts article. 
In other words, there are not only article ratings, but user ratings as
well. When a user submits his opinion (his rating) for an article, then that
article rating is weighted by that user's rating. The user's rating is
itself obtained depending in how well a user's articles in that field have
Such a system would work only if there were some incentive for people not
only to submit articles, but ratings as well. Taking the realistic rather
than the idealistic viewpoint, the only incentive for people to make such
contributions would be the financial incentive. In other words, people will
have to be paid for authoring an article and for submitting ratings. 
One form of income would be subscription to the system. For example, if each
user subscribed at a rate of $10 per month, and if there were a hundred
thousand users, then the system would receive an income of $1m per month.

This income would then be distributed among the users based on how well
their articles are doing and how highly their ratings are sought after. For
example, if a user writes an article that becomes famous and highly rated,
then he may claim a certain value for his article. Let's say that his
article was rated at a value of 5 and it was downloaded 20 times in a
certain month. That article then has a value of 100 for that month. Let's
say that the total value of the system (obtained by multiplying the rating
of each article by the number of times it was downloaded and adding it all
up) was 200,000. Then the payout to the author of that article for that
month would be $1m x 100/200,000 = $50, which is five times more than his
subscription fee. If he has many articles that are highly rated, then his
income is potentially quite substantial.
So much for incentives for writing articles. To encourage users to rate
articles, a certain fraction, perhaps 20%, must be reserved for paying
readers for submitting their ratings of articles. These funds would be
distributed among the users depending on their user ratings. That is, if two
people rate an article, then the most highly rated user will receive a
greater share of the funds allocated for rating that article. Given that
submitting a rating involves far less work that writing an article, any
incentive would encourage rating activities.

The payouts are even greater if, in addition to subscription income, the
system also receives what I call directed donations. Let's say a medical
research foundation is looking for the cure to a particular disease. This
foundation could make a directed donation, or a donation that will increase
the payout to people who are writing articles on the curing of that disease.
Again, the payout will be based on the value of the articles in that field.
In fact, to encourage intellectual growth in any country, each government
contributes substantially to its researchers that publish in accredited
journals. If accreditation is equated to rating beyond a certain value, then
these donations could be directed to citizens of that country publishing on
the system. If, for example, the US government were to donate $1m to US
citizens, then the authorship payouts to US citizens would be substantially
greater, encouraging its writers/researchers to produce more and better
quality articles. 
In fact, countries typically contribute a lot more than $1m to universities
for academics to be rewarded for their publishing efforts; the numbers run
into the 100s of millions of dollars. 
Another potential contributor, or directed donor, would be industry. For
instance, if a petrochemical company were to make available $50,000 for
measuring the chemical equilibrium of a particular reaction system, these
funds would be distributed among the researchers that contribute to this
topic, depending on the ratings of their articles.
In other words, there is much potential for highly rated writers and
researchers to earn an excellent income through such a system.

----- End forwarded message -----

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