Applets that implement animation, interactive games, and many other new kinds of presentation modes are proliferating on the Web. The flowering of creativity in these presentations should be encouraged. In the early days of movies and television, the amount of equipment involved was beyond the resources of amateurs, and universities did not play a major role in the development of these technologies. By contrast, universities are important in American theater and classical
music. The Web is also an area in which equipment is not a limitation, and universities have a chance to play a role.
This innovation represents a chance for the university art and music departments to join forces with the library. Just as the traditional tasks of preparing reading lists and scholarly articles can move onto a university Web site, so can the new media. The advantage of collaborating with the library is that we can actually save the beginnings of a new form of creativity. We lack the first e-mail message; nobody understood that it was worth saving. Much of early film (perhaps half the movies made before 1950) no longer survives. The 1950S television entertainment is mostly gone for lack of recording devices. In an earlier age, the Elizabethans did not place a high value on saving their dramatic works; of the plays performed by the Admiral's Men (a competitor to Shakespeare's company), we have only 10% or 15% today. We have a chance not to make the same mistake with innovative Web page designs, providing that such pages are supported in some organized way rather than on computers in individual student dorm rooms.
Recognizing software as a type of scholarship is a change for the academic community. The National Science Foundation tends to say, "we don't pay for software, we pay for knowledge," drawing a sharp distinction between the two. Even computer science departments have said that they do not award a Ph.D. for writing a program. The new kinds of creativity will need a new kind of university recognition. Will we have honorary Web pages instead of honorary degrees? We need undergraduate course credit and tenure consideration for Web pages.
Software and data are new kinds of intellectual output that are not considered creative. Traditionally, for example, the design of a map was considered copyrightable; the data on the map, although representing more of the work, were not considered part of the design and were not protected. In the new university publishing model, data should be a first-class item whose accumulation and collection is valuable and leads to reward.
A switch toward honoring a Web page rather than a paper does have consequences for style, as discussed above. Web pages also have no size constraints; in principle, there is no reason why a gigabyte could not be published by an undergraduate. Universities will need to develop both tools and rules for summarizing and accessing very large items as needed.