Author + information
- Anthony N. DeMaria, MD, MACC, Editor-in-Chief, Journal of the American College of Cardiology⁎ ()
- ↵⁎Address correspondence to:
Dr. Anthony N. DeMaria, Editor-in-Chief, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 3655 Nobel Drive, Suite 630, San Diego, California 92112
The salesman looked at me with a sense of amusement. My grandson Alec and I were going to travel overseas and were shopping for a camera to record the trip. We were in the process of buying a new model with a plethora of capabilities and optional features, all based on digital technology. I had been fumbling in an attempt to try out the camera when my grandson, who has not yet reached his teens, said “Here, Grandpa, let me show you how to do it.” He picked up the camera and quickly and deftly manipulated the menus and controls through the range of functions of the instrument. I stood there somewhat stunned, and definitely impressed by his prowess compared to my own limited skills. Clearly a considerable generation gap exists in the ability to use digital technology, at least between him and me as representatives of our age groups.
A generation gap in digital knowledge and skills is generally acknowledged to exist. This should not be surprising. Just as foreign languages and athletic skills, such as skiing, are learned more readily at a young age, it is easier to master digital technology if you are immersed in it as a youth. Similarly, the longer life goes on the more we fall into a routine and the harder it seems to take up new things. Nevertheless, this does not prevent some embarrassment when the generation gap is so clearly demonstrated. Of more importance is what the greater orientation to digital technology augurs for the future.
Increasingly, the younger generation turns to the internet for information. They read the news online, make purchases on the “net,” and research the literature on PubMed rather than in the library. They are not passive participants. They have pages on Facebook and interact on blogs and Wikipedia. They have computers at work and at home, laptops for travel, and carry smartphones with the ability to access the Internet any time and any place. Google is so prevalent in contemporary society that it is a verb as well as noun. Although the final outcome of this transition is not yet in clear focus, the forces which will determine what the world will look like when my grandson is himself a grandfather are apparent.
Medical journals are not immune to this digital evolution. When I was selected to be the Editor-in-Chief of JACC I was assured that journals would soon cease to have a print version, and might not exist at all. Recent reader surveys have nevertheless continued to demonstrate that the majority prefer the print format. However, there is a clear age differential; older cardiologists usually read the print version while those who have graduated more recently often read JACC online. It seems obvious that print presentations of media and journals will continue to be prevalent for years to come, but the future belongs to the World Wide Web.
JACC has taken a number of steps to address this future evolution. The online version not only provides timely access to the Journal, but also offers a number of valuable additional features. Manuscripts deemed to be worthy of Expedited Publication are made available online as soon as they are completed in final, and for some time we have posted articles “In Press” upon completion prior to print publication. Readers can set up personalized email alerts to Journal contents consisting of the Table of Contents or specific topics of interest. These personalized alerts may be based upon specific words in a manuscript, or specific authors, or even to papers which cite a specific article, and they are then sent to the reader automatically. Just to test the system, I have gone online to select personalized alerts to any articles on cardiac imaging. Online JACC provides hyperlinks to articles cited in a manuscript, and readers can access the full text of any such article in any journal which is published by Highwire Press, even if they do not subscribe to that journal. In terms of figures, readers can cluster all of the figures from a paper on a single page, or download pre-formatted Powerpoint slides for presentations. In fact, the online site provides full slide sets of the complete presentations for many of the papers we publish. Readers can easily e-mail an article to a colleague or download the reference to a citation manager. Of course, the online presentation provides links to other articles on the same subject matter or by the same authors or that have cited the paper. Having delineated this long list of attractive options, I cannot help but wonder why more people do not read the Journal online.
Recognizing the potential of the Internet and the increasing use of this medium to access medical (and other) information by younger cardiologists, we plan to further enhance this version of JACC. Soon readers will not only have still illustrations in the body of the paper, but with a single key stroke will be able to view any streaming real-time videos. In the spirit of “Web 2.0,” we plan to implement options for readers to comment upon or ask questions about papers, vote on issues raised by individual articles, and access other material related to the subject matter of published papers such as videos, interviews, and so forth. And, of course, online JACC is linked to Cardiosource with its full range of information. We anticipate that online JACC in conjunction with Cardiosource will become a true cardiovascular networking portal.
As I said at the beginning of this piece, encounters with my grandchildren can often induce considerable humility. As a good grandfather, I have tried (and will continue to strive) to teach them everything I can. However, what they teach me is also enormously valuable. It is clear that their generation will acquire knowledge and interact with society in a very different manner from mine, that is digitally and online. In fact, the transition is well underway, and I find myself using the Internet more and more. We have already worked hard to make the online version of JACC attractive and full of valuable options. Hopefully, what I have learned from Alec will help guide the Journal smoothly into the digital future.
- American College of Cardiology Foundation