Well the rationale is simple, it seems that in today’s scientific community it is very difficult to get anything published which resembles a thought piece or a position paper. Of course there are various low quality ‘telephone book conferences’ which will accept this kind of work, but there is no peer review and there is no quality assurance. Indeed, in some cases publication at one of these venues is more detrimental to your standing as a scientist than no publications at all.
Show me a journal, a good quality journal mind, that will publish something which doesn’t look like a standard piece of empirical work. This is very difficult in my area of Web science, indeed, the only journal I know which may publish this kind of work, certainly within the Web Ergonomics (usability and accessibility) domain is Universal Access in the Information Society, and then only in the form of a short letter.
The reality is, that even well argued thoughts or positions do not have a lot of traction within scientific journals because the quality metrics for these journals are based on citation indexes; they see a need to maintain their scientific quality by only publishing empirical work. This means that such visionaries as JCR Licklider, Theodor Holm Nelson, and Vannevar Bush would have never had their seminal visionary works published. The idea of associative linking in hypertext would not have been postulated, the word hypertext would not have been disseminated, and the idea of a man computer symbiosis would have never been widely publicised.
It seems that at the start of the 21st century we as scientists are confined to blogs as our primary form of disseminating thoughts and positions, instead of well rounded academic journals. This means that our ideas and arguments are not subject to peer review: which is good for us if our peers are mostly concerned with empirical work, but bad for our readers if our peers are open-minded enough to appreciate a substantive and logical basis for discussion, position, assertions, and hypotheses.
So this is my rationale for a starting this blog; whether it will continue is entirely another matter. Either-way, at this point it exists to discuss the science and engineering around Web accessibility, usability, and Web ergonomics. Hopefully with the ethos of the Open Notebook Science series, and in the style of other well-received science blogs such as O’Really? and the Human Brain Project.