Throughout these developments, scholars have always communicated; indeed one could argue that communication is inherent in scholarship. Can someone really be called a scholar if she works alone and never informs anyone else of her thoughts and findings?
This communication has always been across two dimensions. The first is space - communication with one's contemporaries dispersed across geography. The second dimension is time - communication with one's predecessors and communication with one's successors. Prior to the development of printing these communicative transactions had to be mediated either through speech or writing.
The communication has also been in two modes: informal and formal. The main forms of informal communication have been verbal communication through personal contacts with other scholars. Over time, groups of scholars build up a network of such informal communications channel, often called the 'invisible college' [Crane, 1972]. Now, a large part of such informal communication takes place through the medium of email lists and on-line conferences [Fjällbrant, 1997]. Formal communication has until now required some form of printed or written communication. In fact, one could argue that formal communication was not really possible prior to the advent of the printed journal. This is because of the limited distribution possibilities for any communication artefact inherent in the need to manually copy it or commit it to memory. Formal communication can now also take place online.
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