PDF as the MP3 for science?

As I was preparing a talk on Science2.0 for the JTEL Winter School, it struck me that, in many respects, PDF is the MP3 of science.

Songs can be captured in MP3, articles in PDF.

We used to buy song in packages called records. We used to read articles in packages called books, journals or proceedings.

We no longer go to a record shop, but download individual songs. We no longer go to libraries, but download individual articles.

We can listen to our music any time any place. We can read our papers on screen or printed, any time any place.

Yet, examples of the snowflake effect in research are much less mainstream than examples in music. We do not have an iPod for research. And we do not have an iTunes store for research. I’m not sure we’ve even had a research napster yet…

I wonder why?

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