The end of gatekeepers?

Been Thompson wrote this on Stratechery this week:

… the end of gatekeepers is inevitable. The Internet provides abundance, not scarcity, and power flows from discovery, not distribution. We can regret the change or relish it, but we cannot halt it: best to get on with making it work for far more people than gatekeepers ever helped – or harrassed.

Most of his post is about current events or Netflix or other things, but his general point is interesting for academic publishing. The rise of Open Access and other models suggests that whatever we think academic publishing will look like in 20 years is probably wrong. 

What are the implications of such changes for how we disseminate knowledge? What will our models be in 20 years? 

Here’s a prediction: Google will dominate. Take that as a starting point and these implications follow:

  • Impact factors will be less important than Google metrics. 
  • If multiple channels affect Google metrics, authors will focus on multiple channels.
  • If publishing on platforms affects those metrics, platforms will become more important. 
  • If “wildcat” channels affect Google metrics, channels will proliferate.

Those are just few ideas. Comments are closed but please feel free to respond on Twitter at @abwhitford. 

Market incentives limit policy change

Imagine you own a firm that wants to reduce its labor costs so you’re considering relocating to a low-cost jurisdiction. You know that the Constitution limits ex post facto laws – that you can’t be punished individually after the fact. But you’re concerned that the legislature might pass a law that punish future offshoring decisions. When should you leave?

But every other similarly-positioned company is also considering their options. What happens if you all leave?

The legislature would then face the problem of having to punish all companies offshoring work – not just those that left after it announced it was considering this trade law. 

Take a moment next time you’re at the store and “Made in …” labels. And consider how many items are “Assembled in the US” from foreign-sourced parts. And that our membership in the WTO limits our options. 

Modern supply chain management and logistics were invented to make these types of networked production arrangements run smoothly. Most credible business schools know that these are key components of a modern MBA student’s education. Deloitte and other consulting firms employ specialists to perfect these systems. 

What’s the chance we can put this particular genie back in the bottle?

FOIA Mapper

Figure 1: FOIA Process (simplified)

An interesting site:

The FOIA dilemma – what can I ask for and how do I ask for it?

Making a Freedom of Information Request is a burdensome process that may involve days or even weeks of work to identify what records are available and enough information about how they are stored to property phrase the request.

Government agencies are required to disclose a list of their “Major Information Systems.” However, this data represents only a small fraction of the universe of public information accessible via Freedom of Information.

For most government record systems, identifying them typically requires scouring an agency’s website for pages relating to the topic, in the hope to finding small clues to help you infer or make educated guesses about what information an agency may have.

The Solution

Since first discovering FOIA a few years ago, I have made hundreds of Freedom of Information requests across a wide range of topics. And in that time, I have learned a few ways of identifying these hidden record systems.

In some cases, information about these record systems can be inferred from online documents (for example: public RFP documents, Federal Register notices). In other cases, information about record systems can itself be obtained via FOIA (for example: database relational schema, lists of FOIA requests made by other people).

FOIA Mapper compiles this information into a centralized catalog of government records, searchable by topic.

CFP: Whole of Government Accounting and Auditing: International Trends

Call for papers on “Whole of Government Accounting and Auditing: International Trends”

CIGAR Workshop and PhD Seminar: 8-10 September 2014

Kristianstad University, Sweden Kristianstad University, Sweden

The CIGAR Workshop will comprise papers that examine and critically review current international trends on Whole of Government Accounting and Auditing (WGA&A) as well as their link to macro accounting frameworks. Changes to the organizational composition of the public sector introduced by New Public Management-style reforms, leading to corporatisation, contracting-out and privatization in their various forms have led to an increased decentralisation of responsibilities in accounting in the public sector (Osborne and Gaebler, 1992; Christensen and Laegreid, 2007). Internationally, public sector reforms have given rise to the need for producing and auditing financial reports for the whole of government. From a global perspective, while individual countries are moulding their own unique approaches, it is possible to identify general trends. Whole of government accounting (WGA) is an integral part of the accruals accounting and financial reporting changes accompanying public sector reforms internationally (Heald and Georgiou, 2000; Chow at al., 2007; Robb and Newberry, 2007).

The concept of WGA is ambiguous because it may refer to a government (central, regional or local) or international organisations (such as UN, EC, etc.) producing a single financial report that encompasses all government activity within its area of authority. Alternatively, it may also refer to a central government’s efforts to produce a single financial report that encompasses public sector activities throughout the country (Grossi and Newberry, 2009).

Some WGA approaches show a strong link to national/macro accounting frameworks, which are also based on accrual data. In this context the application of harmonized accrual-based accounting standards at the micro level can be considered as a crucial prerequisite for the enhancement of the statistical information basis at the macro level. In particular, the growing need and demand for harmonized WGA&A standards has been observed in several countries as well as by national and international standard setters and auditing firms. These intertwined accounting spheres therefore need to be addressed in theory as well as practice oriented accounting research, particularly with regard to unsolved consolidation issues as well as the potential to reduce actually existing transformation efforts between the micro and macro level.

The aim of this Workshop is to analyse emerging trends and experiences to produce and audit whole of government financial statements as well as their relationships to macro accounting frameworks. The workshop organisers invite theoretical, empirical, practical, and review papers, whether quantitative or qualitative, from academics and practitioners.

Subject coverage: Topics suitable for the CIGAR Workshop include but are not limited to:
The international standardisation/harmonisation movement in public sector accounting
Setting Whole of Government Accounting and Auditing standards
Single or comparative country studies relating to Whole of Government Accounting and Auditing
Linking macro with micro accounting
The audit of whole of government financial reports
The role of whole of government accounting in the accountability agenda
Issues relating to cross-transfer of private sector financial reporting practices to the public sector
Important dates: The deadline for submission of full papers is 30 June 2014. Acceptance will be notified by 15 July 2014. Accepted papers will be presented in the CIGAR Workshop (8-9 September 2014) or in the PhD Seminar (9-10 September 2014). Selected papers will be published in a special issue of an international journal in 2016. The special issue will be jointly edited by Eugenio Caperchione and Giuseppe Grossi.

Submission of papers: Accepted papers should be submitted as MS Word file attached to an e-mail to Giuseppe Grossi (

Conference venue: CIGAR Workshop on WGA&A will be held at Kristianstad University, Centre for Business Studies, Elmetorpsvägen 15, 291 88 Kristianstad, Sweden (, on September 8-10, 2014.

Workshop website: