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David Harris
Works at PNAS
Attended University of Queensland
Lives in Palo Alto
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David Harris

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David Harris

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A Journal of Brief Ideas

One thing slowing down the flow of research information is that the quantum of research, or the smallest publishable amount, is actually quite large, meaning that a lot of good ideas don’t get published (i.e. spread). Ideas stuck in a mind are no use to anybody except that one individual, but that limits the power of the idea.

Ideas which might be important but are small in size don’t have a natural home. So what if there were the equivalent of a journal, or more specifically the equivalent of the arXiv, for these briefly-expressible ideas?

The key features of such a journal would be:

- time and date stamped submission, for claiming priority
- revisions allowed with a new date stamp
- easy to cite like arXiv entries
- include citations to other ideas in the journal
- allow good search
- have RSS feed for individual authors so you can follow one person’s ideas if you like the way they think
- have a tag folksonomy with the responsibility being on the idea submitter to tag well so that their ideas can be found appropriately
- ideas should be rateable by others
- limit to the size of what can be presented. If it takes too much space to write down it is probably breakable into smaller ideas. Ideally each entry should be a single idea.

In one sense, you could just replicate the arXiv adding tagging and you’d have a nice workable system.

One of the issues to face would be dealing with spam and users who might overload the system with crap. I’m not sure how to deal with the latter at first and it’s not clear how big a problem it would be. Perhaps a rating system could help deal with that.
Artem Kaznatcheev's profile photoDavid Harris's profile photoJessy Kate Schingler's profile photo
as a radically new idea it seems like no matter what you'd have a challenge with credibility. but at a minimum it does seem like blogging software would offer the majority of technical features you seek. then, it becomes a journal if you slap some kind of peer review on top. 

something else that could achieve the "third party" effect, more to your arXive example, would be a depository for these brief ideas. they could still be posted as blog posts too, or wherever/however, and the depository would just collect submissions from arbitrary places and formats. maybe it's the same difference :). 
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David Harris

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What would you pay to receive an artifact of science--some authentic physical curiosity--every few months?
Doug Stetson's profile photoDavid Harris's profile photoJessy Kate Schingler's profile photo
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Science communication designer
  • University of Queensland
  • Australian National University
Basic Information
Editor, Science writer, Physicist
  • PNAS
  • symmetry magazine
    Editor, Science writer, Physicist, 2004 - 2010
  • SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
    2004 - 2010
  • American Physical Society
    2002 - 2004
  • Stanford Linear Accelerator Center
    2004 - 2010
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Palo Alto
College Park, MD - Brisbane, Australia - Canberra, Australia