journals + iTunes = ?

Finally got around to reading this tab I’ve had open for ages (sorry, can no longer remember whom to hat tip!) about a pessimistic take on Elsevier’s business model, and was struck by the following:

At the APE Conference in Berlin in January 2010 there were several presentations on article-level impact metrics — it is at least plausible to imagine a world in which the value of the franchise of each individual journal decreases and the value of the franchise of the individual articles increases.

This reminds me very much of the ongoing music-industry business-model freakout, some of which centers on the dissolution of the “album” as an important object in favor of more easily customized and remixed singles.[*] Surely I am far from the first person to have thought of this analogy, and there must be people who understand the business landscape for journals well enough to have thought through this analogy; anyone know where I would find them?

[*] I have to say, sometimes I feel little sorrows that the mix tapes I once spent so long making, and that were once made so carefully for me, may no longer be a meaningful genre. We put so much time into, not just the overall blend of the songs, but story arcs, and striking transitions. But this is only possible when the mix tape is a standalone object that gets played in a single order — it crashes to pieces on the shoals of iTunes.

Which is not to say I regret iTunes; I listen to more diverse music these days, and have a few really useful playlists, and I like the serendipity of shuffle. Just that — few goods are unmixed, and here’s the casualty of progress. (And how d mix tapes fit into the analogy?)

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