Start-ups Survey Debunks Myths about Science Publishing Innovative Ecosystem

Yvonne Campfens discusses some of the surprising findings of her start-ups study with Sabine Louët, SciencePOD CEO, in a podcast

The first study of its kind related to the start-up ecosystem in the science publishing industry brought a lot of discussions during the APE2019 conference, held on 16th January 2019, in Berlin, Germany. The author of this study is Yvonne Campfens, an independent science publishing consultant, based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Focusing on 120 start-ups— 92 of which are independent— the study debunked some of the myths around the innovative science publishing ecosystem.

Campfens was motivated to start this study as she felt there were a lot of myths surrounding start-ups in publishing. “I was really curious, because I had seen so many new names over the last decade, and I was wondering what had happened with all these new players,” she says. “At the same time there was a lot of debate about distribution, developments, and trends in the industry,” she adds, “but very little facts and data.” This is what motivated Campfens to take a closer look.

She managed to debunk some of the myths surrounding current innovative companies in the field. “When a start-up is taken over, there is a lot of media attention, which gives some people the impression that this is all there is. So, I wanted to know what was really going on.” Specifically, she examined whether these start-ups existed independently from larger publishers.

First, the study reveals that there is now a well-established community of independent publishing start-ups providing innovation in the processes of publishing and content creation for the scholarly communication industry.  Their focus ranges from providing tools for discovery of information in research to offering solutions to prepare and analyse data from research. In addition, a number of start-ups deliver technology-based solutions to assist in writing about research. SciencePOD, which took part in the study, fits in the latter category.

Campfens also delved into the details of how and where their funding came from. She found that 10 start-ups raised $25 million or more in funding, another 7 raised $10 million or more while 29 companies raised $1 million or more. (See bar graphs below for a visual.)

 

Finally, she analysed when, during their lifecycle, start-ups were acquired and by whom. Of the 92 independent start-ups, she found that less than a quarter (21%) were acquired by other companies in 2018. It took, on average, 5 years of a start-up to be acquired. One of the most significant takeaways from her study, she says, “the acquired start-ups were definitely not taken over by STM players.” Indeed, the study reveals that companies that are not players in the science publishing industry acquired the majority (67%) of the 27 start-ups that were acquired.

To provide some first-hand comments from entrepreneurs themselves, Campfens invited a panel of start-up representatives. These included Arne Smolders, CEO of Academiclabs.co, based in Gent, Belgium.  This company is a social media network for linking academic and industry researchers in the life science sector.

Another panellist, Niklas Dorn, is CEO of video streaming solution Filestage.io based in Stuttgart, Germany, explained how scientific meetings could benefit from his solution.

Then, systems architect Roman Gurinovich with SCI.ai based in Tallinn, Estonia, outlined the benefits of his AI tool to validate scientific hypotheses from the published literature.

Last but not least,  Sami Benchekroun CEO and Co-founder of  Morressier based in Berlin, Germany, explained the concept of his publishing platform where researchers can share and showcase their early work at pre-publication stage, with the aim of fostering greater collaboration among scientists at an early stage.

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Digital publishers under the spell of web automation

What keeps digital publishers awake at night? This is a question that has more answers than we have space in this column. However, for many, having the right set of automation tools is essential. This is as true for digital marketing as it is for creating quality content. Publishers from mainstream digital media organisations could not agree more during DiG Publishing Lisbon held just this year, 3-5 Oct 2018.

While much of the focus and attendees went toward advertising, analytics and monetisation, content remains at the top of the agenda. Start-ups represented around the content creation theme included Market4News. CEO, Igor Gómez Maneiro explained how his platform helps to locate suitable mobile journalism reporters whereas Justin Varilek, Founder and CEO of HackPack presented his online community of journalists. Later, Niko Vijayaratnam, Founder of Authored.io, shared his online authoring tool, showing promise, despite its relatively early stage of development.

Meanwhile, SciencePOD’s CEO, Sabine Louët, offered a sneak peek at the company’s digital publishing platform, which helps to automate the ordering and creation of quality content telling the story of research and innovation. The idea is to translate the complex jargon of science and technology into clear, concise, compelling stories to better influence targeted audiences.

For enthusiasts and perhaps those in need of cost-effective content marketing strategies, Philipp Nette, Founder and CEO of Cutnut, has developed a centralised, social media content creation and distribution platform for marketing campaigns. Meanwhile, Alexandra Steffel, Editor in Chief, at Intellyo, offered a content planning and creation tool for enterprises.

Another favourite, Locationews was certainly one for the books. Created by Co-Founder Julius Koskela, the site helps to map news onto a global map enabling readers to selectively find news most relevant to their preferred location. Finally, Simply Aloud Co-Founder Davide Lovato talked about embedding voice version of articles into news sites. For now, the recordings are done individually to guarantee highest audio quality, rather than via automated text-to-voice systems.

Why the need for a wide variety of content creation and distribution and monitoring tools? Wouldn’t these complicate newsrooms?

“We are reaching an age of the internet where enabling technologies automating content creation and distribution are maturing,” says Louët. “Therefore, making the most of these standard technologies is within everyone’s reach.” These technologies make it possible for digital publishers to unleash their imagination and bring more compelling content and news to their readers.

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Cheers!

Photo credit: Pixabay user KJ

Champagne Owes Its Taste To The Finely Tuned Quality Of Its Bubbles

Based on this summary, this story was picked up by the New York Times as A Universe of Bubbles in Every Champagne Bottle.

What provides the wonderful aromas is a long neuro-physico-chemical process that results in bubbles fizzing at the surface of champagne

Ever wondered how the fate of champagne bubbles from their birth to their death with a pop enhances our perception of aromas? These concerns, which are relevant to champagne producers, are the focus of a special issue of EPJ Special Topics, due to be published in early January 2017—celebrating the 10th anniversary of the publication. Thanks to scientists, champagne producers are now aware of the many neuro-physico-chemical mechanisms responsible for aroma release and flavour perception. The taste results from the complex interplay between the level of CO2 and the agents responsible for the aroma–known as volatile organic compounds–dispersed in champagne bubbles, as well as temperature, glass shape, and bubbling rate.

In the first part of the Special Topic issue, Gérard Liger-Belair from CNRS in Reims, France, has created a model to describe, in minute detail, the journey of the gas contained in each bubble. It starts from the yeast-based fermentation process in grapes, which creates CO2, and goes all the way to the nucleation and rise of gaseous CO2 bubbles in the champagne flute. It also includes how the CO2 within the sealed bottle is kept in a form of finely tuned equilibrium and then goes into the fascinating cork-popping process.

The second part of this Special Issue is a tutorial review demystifying the process behind the collapse of bubbles. It is mainly based on recent investigations conducted by a team of fluid physicists from Pierre and Marie Curie University, in Paris, France, led by Thomas Séon. When a champagne bubble reaches an air-liquid interface, it bursts, projecting a multitude of tiny droplets into the air, creating an aerosol containing a concentration of wine aromas.

References

G. Liger-Belair and T. Séon (2017), Bubble Dynamics in Champagne and Sparkling Wines: Recent Advances and Future ProspectsEuropean Physical Journal ST, 226/1, DOI 10.1140/epjst/e2017-02677-8

G. Liger-Belair (2017), Effervescence in champagne and sparkling wines: From grape harvest to bubble rise, European Physical Journal ST

T. Séon and G. Liger-Belair (2017), Effervescence in champagne and sparkling wines: From bubble bursting to droplet evaporation, European Physical Journal ST

Illustration

Caption: Flower-shaped structure, frozen through high-speed photography, found during the collapse of bubbles at the surface of a champagne flute.

Photo credit: Gérard Liger-Belair

 

EPJ

Originally published in EPJ via SciencePOD

Based on this summary, this story was picked up by the New York Times as A Universe of Bubbles in Every Champagne Bottle.

Infographic with Microbide.com

One of the most recent examples of an infographic created by SciencePOD for Microbide.com. The content focuses on the reduction of viral load in the presence of whole blood by a new antimicrobial disinfectant.

SciencePOD microbide.com infographic example

Digital media changes how we talk

Photo Credit: bandt.com.au

A new linguistic study analyzes how technology transforms our communication. The current change is unique in its speed—and may have far-reaching cultural and educational consequences in the long run.

 

The medium we use affects the message we want to convey. That is why you probably would not end a romantic relationship with a text message, and it would be a bit strange to send a handwritten letter to your boss to tell her you are taking a day off sick.

Yet it doesn’t end there. The influence that the medium has over the messages we send has spread well beyond the confines of a few lines of text, and it is having a profound impact on the way we communicate as a society.

The third millennium started in a period of curiosity and excitement about the many new technologies entering our everyday lives. Mobile phones were becoming increasingly widespread, and SMS messages offered an entirely new form of communication.

“Digital media has become so crucial to our communication that it has created a new type of language.”

One person following this evolution closely is Ágnes Veszelszki, Associate Professor in communication and Hungarian linguistics at the Corvinus University in Budapest, Hungary. Digital media has become so crucial to our communication that it has created a new type of language. Veszelszki calls this “digilect”, and she defines and analyzes it in a new book that goes by the same title and looks at just how much our language has been changed by digital media.

“Digilect is the language variety (type) of digital media, which is typically used during communication taking place on computers or other digital devices,” Veszelszki explains. “It has many special characteristics in terms of form, spelling, grammar, and style.” For her book, Veszelszki indexed these characteristics based on findings from two surveys and several analyses of digital, handwritten, and printed texts, offering a wealth of linguistics innovations in English, German, and Hungarian.

ENTER THE EMOTICON ;‑)

The use of emoticons—spelling variants and writing in a style similar to spoken language—is central to digilect. “But the most striking innovations relate to vocabulary,” Veszelszki says. “For example, many new abbreviations and Internet-specific acronyms are used for simplification and time-saving purposes.” Now that written communication is taking over from oral communication—who has not been guilty of shooting an email to a colleague sitting on the other side of the room to avoid having to walk over—we cannot afford to lose too much of our time on crafting messages.

“Who has not been guilty of shooting an email to a colleague sitting on the other side of the room to avoid having to walk over?”

As a result, many neologisms, or “netologisms”, have sprung from the Web, some of which have become commonplace in all layers of society and all manner of communications. Words like “hashtag”, “troll”, “meme”, and “like” had completely different meanings in the previous century. Abbreviations like “omg” (oh my god) and gesture-describing expressions such as “facepalm” were just gibberish. The English language has inspired many netologism in Hungarian, and presumably in other languages too. The word “hack”, for example, is “hekkel” and “like” is “lájkol”. This may be because English dominates the online world, though another possible explanation is that it adds a layer of prestige.

FROM THE VIRTUAL TO THE ANALOG

Digilect is most notable in online communication, specifically in instant messaging conversations and on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. Especially the latter platform has an important influence on our public and private conversations. “Just think about it: Facebook is still showing a growing trend with nearly half a million new users registering each day,” Veszelszki says. “Every six seconds, six new Facebook profiles are created.”

However, Veszelszki also found that these linguistic innovations have begun to influence the way teenagers formulate messages when they write by hand. Interestingly, when she asked them to fill in a paper questionnaire about their language use, “it was an unexpected outcome that the answers to open-ended questions included many digilectic forms, like abbreviations and smileys. Interestingly, they wrote smileys as if typed on a keyboard and not rotated by 90 degrees to better represent the human face.” To illustrate, they wrote ‘:-)’ or ‘XD’ instead of ‘☺’.

“I was interested to learn whether the new abbreviations invented in digital communication also have an impact on note-taking. The answer is a clear yes.”

Ágnes Veszelszki

Veszelszki delved deeper into this and collected a corpus of student handbooks to investigate the handwritten notes in the margins that students write to converse during class. “I was interested to learn whether the new abbreviations invented in digital communication also have an impact on note-taking. The answer is a clear yes,” says Veszelszki.

Additionally, Veszelszki also found examples of digilect in spoken language, such as those in made-up quotes like this one: “Oh em gee, I lol’d so hard!” (fans of the Kardashian family may be familiar with these). Respondents to her survey said they had used abbreviations like “asap” and “brb” in conversations, as well as the netologisms “lájkol” (“like”) and “lávol”, which means “love” and was inspired by the pronunciation of that English word.

POST-LITERACY: BACK TO AN ORAL CULTURE?

As mentioned earlier, digilect is heavily influenced by oral communication. For example, digital communication resembles dialogue, is less structured than written text, and has looser spelling and grammar rules. This may have notable consequences, given the ubiquity of digital communication, as Western society is heavily based on text.

Veszelszki thinks the evolution of digilect can help offset the constraints that literacy imposes on society. “Some say that the emergence of literacy became a barrier between people, as literate societies lack the spontaneity of orality, and therefore people living in literacy-based cultures have separated from each other both psychologically and emotionally. Today, however, orality seems to have gained ground against literacy, so these ‘values’ are making their way back to society.”

In the post-literacy world of today, literacy has lost its absolute power in favor of spontaneous discourse, which is characterized by immediacy, emotional directness, and vitality. “Planned communication is no longer considered ideal, not even in literature,” notes Veszelszki. An example of this is the cell phone novel, a literary format particularly popular in Japan and China, which is made up of short chapters sent to subscribers via e-mail or SMS message.

BEYOND SLANG

Most speakers of digilect are from younger generations, so it is easy to assume that it is therefore a form of slang that youths will stop using as they grow older and adopt a more formal communication style. However, that is not how Veszelszki sees it. “Digilect is not only used by young people, but by everyone using computer-mediated communication. My research suggests that people from older generations who regularly use the Internet for work or play can also be fluent in the language variety of digital communication.” The fact that so many youths seem to be using this language variety might then simply be because younger generations are better versed in using computers and navigating the online world.

“Digilect is not only used by young people, but by everyone using computer-mediated communication.”

Ágnes Veszelszki

That does not take away the fact that today, many adults will not understand so-called digital natives talking online, or among themselves. This has important educational implications. “For adults dealing with children, it can be useful to be open to their communication style,” Veszelszki says. “This does not mean that they should talk and write like children, but they should at least know about the online content in which children are interested. Education should be better prepared—in terms of methods, tools, and content—for students who use digital technology day and night and sometimes know better than their teachers. It should teach them about the different forms of communication and the registers linked to them.”

It is difficult to predict how these language variations will continue to evolve, as technologies change so quickly that you can never know which new platform will arrive next. In fact, some innovations have already started dying out.

When everyone was still sending SMS messages, the character limitation inspired creative abbreviations, many of which quickly became widespread. Now that such boundaries no longer exist on instant messaging apps, that evolution has been at least partly turned around. What is more, word prediction functionalities can even cause us to write words in full and force us to use correct spellings and sentence capitalization.

Veszelszki prefers, then, to catalog these changes in our language, so that they might be remembered by future generations.

“Perhaps, in a way, this book was the last opportunity to ask, ‘How has the Internet changed language?’” she says. “Some people can no longer imagine life without the Internet; many seem unable to recall how they used to think before the Internet era. For those born in the golden age of the Internet and digital technology, this question is hardly understandable as they have no basis for comparison with the pre-Internet era.”

Maybe one day, they can find out in a Museum of Analog Communication.

This article was originally published at blog.degruyter.com, here.