I have been at four out to the five Science Online London (a.k.a. SpotOn London) conferences, and the first one was the first ever virtual event I attended. It's the conference I most look forward to each year. For me, this year felt different. It felt like the year solo came of age.
On the first day I had my doubts though. It started well enough. I was expecting Ben Goldacre to do the book talk, but he didn't, instead giving a plea in the usual Goldacre expletive-laced style about harvesting the low hanging fruit of cheap data that has been overlooked rather than over elaborating every study into a €1bn monster. It was entertaining, and it was exactly the right talk for this meeting.
After that ... it wasn't until the last session of the day that the meeting kicked off for me. It came alive in Ian Mulvany's megajournal session - people fighting for the microphone. The general feeling was that the rise of megajournals is inevitable, and that specialist journals cannot survive economically. The new business model for boutique journals (such as Annals of Botany) might be to apply the brand (expertise, editorial board) widely across many platforms, becoming a metajournal. When? Difficult to say, but the event horizon is within 20 years (and might be much sooner):
But what is the business model to sustain the Cormaic McCarthy style bands of roving editors that will run these metajournals? I talked to David Kavanaugh from scrazzl who has some interesting ideas about how that could happen.
After a sociable Sunday night in The Fellow and big big greasy fried breakfast, I was fired up for day two. Our workshop on altmetrics and impact seemed to go well. At least, it was standing room only, but judge for yourself:
After that it was interesting stuff - sessions and private conversations - before I had to run for a train and skip the traditional closing ceremony in The Betjeman Arms.
Already looking forward to next year.