So yesterday mornings “Future of Scholarly Publishing” was quite interesting. Steve Heller gave his usual enjoyable presentation of InChI and the InChI Trust. The establishment of the Trust ensures that progress and technical support for InChI continues on.

Alex Wade from Microsoft gave a great overview of the activities Microsoft has ongoing in the area of scholarly communication. I was impressed if not even overwhelmed with all that Microsoft is doing. If you were worried about Microsoft taking over the world, then this talk will only reinforce that concern! I will post a link to his talk once it is made available. UPDATE: Here is Alex’s PowerPoint presentation.

Next was Peter Murray-Rust, and this was a typical Peter talk. He started off by truly going after all scientific publishers for restrictions to and copyright notices plastered all over supplementary materials. These materials are almost exclusively data, and data cannot be copyrighted. Peter pleaded with publishers to allow free and unrestricted access to these materials and I wholeheartedly second this! Peter then demonstrated a number of chemistry semantic tools. His talk will be posted online, and I’ll get the URL here when it’s available.

The last of the talks I was able to see before leaving for the airport was by Joe Townsend. He demonstrated the new Chem4Word plugin (now rebranded “Chemistry Add-in for Word”). This tool allows for chemistry semantics to be placed into a docx file, with all chemistry preserved as xml. This is an amazing first step towards providing authors the proper tools to create data- and chemistry-rich documents that preserve chemical knowledge for distribution and archiving. The plugin is available here, and is only applicable for Word 2007, and that poses an interesting problem as pointed out during the Q&A session – ACS pubs cannot accept docx files, so all that semantics will be lost. As was mentioned in the talk, that’s data destruction, and it’s time for authors and readers to demand better from the STM publishers!