Systemic visions of the future

Document ID
Is part of
The Scholarly Commons: a systems perspective
In reply to
FORCE2017 Call for Abstracts
Submitted by
Chris Chapman
Katie Chapman
Alternative representations
PDF, size: US letter
PDF, size: ISO A4


What if we just started from scratch and designed a system for current technology instead of trying to adapt our current pre-digital system? Such an exercise would cause us to examine our assumptions about the way things should be. And, once we knew what a system should look like, we could see how close we were to achieving it.… We will be engaging the FORCE11 community and our allies around the world to articulate their visions for the Scholarly Commons.

— Maryann Martone, The Future is a Happy Place

Over the past two years, the Scholarly Commons Working Group has embarked on several efforts to gather thoughts and ideas for a collective vision of the Scholarly Commons. This session will contribute to this larger effort, specifically by reaching out to others that are working on efforts for the future of scholarly communications in some way, to see what we can learn by evaluating these prospective systems of scholarship.

After a brief introduction to the terminology and models from systems theory, such as stocks, flows, and feedback loops, prospective systems will be introduced, and we will work in groups to analyze these systems, with the goal of converging upon a collective understanding of the systemic elements, interconnections, and purpose of the scholarship of the future.


A 45–60 or 60–75 minute workshop session.

This is part two of three workshop sessions. The first is The Scholarly Commons: a systems perspective of the past and present, and the last is The Scholarly Commons: systemic change. They could be done individually and stand-alone if needed, but would be best held sequentially.

Here is a rough outline of this second workshop:

  • 10 minutes, Quick recap of previous session. Intro to systems thinking.
  • 15 minutes, 1–2 minute soapbox for each system. Invite contributor/advocate to present on their system. BYOS, but we will provide some as well.
  • 12 minutes × 3, Break into groups. Evaluate and diagram each system from a systems point of view. Switch systems at least three times.
  • 10–15 minutes, Plenary to discuss and share
  • 10 minutes, Plenary, asking questions such as the following:

What’s the best stuff up here? What do we want to see for sure in any future system of scholarship? What is essential, what is vital, what is central? What are things that could be more in the periphery? Are there things that are not as important? Which pieces or connections are from the current system? Are they required, or are they hiding something? Which are new? (label each somehow)

We will ideally find elements and connections that are needed for any starter system.