Another “why didn’t I think of that?” moment.

Rich Apodaca provides my daily dose of “smack self in forehead”:

Recently, I attended a talk given by Max Levchin, co-founder of PayPal, on the subject of product design. In it, he advised those seeking to create a successful startup to build products designed to enable users to commit one or more of the Seven Deadly Sins.

His reasoning was simplicity itself. The Seven Deadly Sins were those activities so universal, that people needed to be threatened with all kinds of bad things if they did them. Looking at it from a detached, secular perspective, most people seem hard-wired to want to commit one or more of the Seven Deadly Sins – repeatedly and without encouragement. Looking at it from a product designer perspective,

See Rich’s post for a concise summary of the Seven Scientific Deadly Sins, and why they are not necessarily sins at all; the take-home point is this:

Why does any of this matter? For the simple reason that information technology and economics are in the process of rendering obsolete existing models of scientific publication. To build the systems of the future, it’s essential to understand the motivations of those using the current one.

Rich is exactly right. Scientists have all kinds of reasons for publishing, and the particular exigencies of research mean that the nobler impulses tend to be pushed to the back of one’s mind — at the practical, day-to-day level, it’s the Sins that win. This strikes me as an insight that open access/open science advocates would do well to keep in mind.

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