This week Richard Smith, a sometimes way-over-the-top advocate of open access, offers a nicely balanced blog post about how post-publication peer review is one way to return scientific publishing to its roots. Extrapolating from the Economist's recent argument that the consolidation of news media was an historical anamoly, Smith argues that journals too will reclaim their foundations as a scholar-mediated form of discourse.
I hope so.
Of course, for this to happen the prestige and imprimatur functions that today's journals serve will need to be replicated in some other fashion. Michael Clarke's brilliance on this point remains an essential read. The moral imperative for open access will not carry the day.
So I think a strategic imperative is in order, in which librarians stop allocating collection dollars to models of dissemination we do not support. Not overnight and not in raging moralistic fashion. But if we believe that scholarly communication should change and that post-pub peer review is worthy we should put our money where our mouth is. We can't always allow fear of what our users might think to prevent us from making changes. Advocacy and boldness are part of the job.