Rafael Sidi, VP, product management, applications marketplace, and developer network at Elsevier, says that the decision to open up the platform's API was motivated in part by the growth of social media and other participatory trends. "If you look at what's happening in the media, on the web, right now with citizen journalists or citizen authorship, the people are no longer passive in what they are doing in their daily lives," he says.
Sidi characterizes the old style of content delivery as a "vending machine mentality," with users requesting what they want and then receiving it with no further input. "Online publishers need to move from [a] vending machine mentality to a vibrant bazaar model where the user community can build services and exchange ideas and services," says Sidi. "In this new ecosystem we need to enable and empower the scientific community to improve their outcome."
In the case of SciVerse, the apps allow researchers to fundamentally alter and rework the functioning of the platform to suit their own personal needs. If an institution feels that a particular feature would greatly enhance their experience, they can collaborate with Elsevier and other scientists and institutions to implement it, rather than waiting and hoping that it's added to the platform.
As an example of an app that provides a better user experience for having been designed by end users, Sidi cites Expert Search, a computer science author search application developed by the University of Tsinghua that tracks organizational and author information about experts in the field of computer science. "So here the [developer] thought that, ‘Okay, in this field, in computer science, when I'm looking for an expert, I'm also interested [in finding out about] his advisor,'" says Sidi. "If I was creating an author network visualization, I wouldn't think to put the advisor as an indicator type. But this guy, he's an expert [and] he knows his workflow problems better than myself and my team."
According to Sidi, this sort of platform openness can't just be a novel afterthought for publishers anymore. "Today, if you are in online publishing and you are not providing APIs, I believe you are doing a disservice to your customers and to [the] scientific community," he says. "Because eventually the community is going to innovate in a quicker way and a more successful way than yourself."
Elsevier - www.elsevier.com
Google - www.google.com
IBM - www.ibm.com
Pubget - www.pubget.com
Rosenfeld Media - www.rosenfeldmedia.com
Siteworx - www.siteworx.com