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“Permanent Whitewater”

I was listening to a podcast by the National Association of Independent Schools called the Trustee Table. A guest on one episode used the term “permanent whitewater.”

The phrase has really stuck with me since I heard it. It applies in many ways to so many aspects of what we are all experiencing.

The pace and nature of change in our lives seems at a fever pitch. Just when we think it can’t increase, it gets turned to an 11.

In scholarly publishing, “permanent whitewater” seems to be the perpetual state-of-affairs.

Digital only or digital first seems like a given. Open access alone has changed the face of journal publishing; for the better.

In the textbook and monograph arena, eBooks have been here for years, but the model is surely evolving; rapidly. Amazon has changed the user model, pricing, distribution, used book market, and too many other things.

Add to that Zoho, a Slack channel, social media, GDPR, Altmetrics, Plan S, preprints, figshare…..The list is endless. And since we are in a tumultuous economic and political cycle, the waves seem even higher.

As a glass half empty guy, I can see navigating these rapids as yet another problem. But (surprisingly), I know see it as the norm and a bit of blessing.

The constant change means that new opportunities will be open to us. We will not be lacking in new directions to move.

We can’t be pigeonholed into one area. We can utilize new tools that are constantly emerging. TikTok for Physics or Anthropology?

I can now connect across the globe to literally anyone. Six degrees of separation I hear is now two and a half degrees of separation. Reaching to people across the world in your area is now just two or three clicks away.

It all starts with a plan. However much I have to repeat to myself when I get anxious: the journal of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

See the rapids as a motivator; a way to stay out of a rut. We are all in it together and there is no going back upstream.

Grab an oar and let’s forge ahead.


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