We live in a world of alternative facts. Trust in reliable, high-quality information is more important than ever. And it’s the publishers around the world that have risen to this challenge.

Michiel KolmanAfter an interval of more than a quarter of a century, the International Publishers Association Congress returns to India this year, starting February 10. In 1992, IPA members arrived in a nation with a developing economy that relied heavily on foreign aid. In 2018, India numbers among the G-20 gathering of wealthiest nations in the world and boasts the planet’s fastest-growing economy.

As much as India has transformed over the last 25 years, so has publishing. National barriers to the flow of information have largely fallen while the ubiquity of mobile devices places a virtual global library in nearly every human hand. Yet the core concerns of IPA endure – freedom to publish and respect for copyright. In an age of fake news, censorship and piracy, says IPA President Michiel Kolman, publishers can be stewards of truth and quality.

“We live in a world of alternative facts, so trust in reliable, high-quality information is now even more important than ever before,” he tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally. “And it’s the publishers around the world that have risen to this challenge and are publishing what I would call trustworthy information, as they have been doing for ages. That’s true for science publishers, for trade publishers, or educational publishers.

“Publishers are also investing heavily so that you can find the right information and that it’s presented in the right way. For instance, if you’re a doctor in an emergency room, you have to find exactly the right information to make the key decisions, and publishers are doing that. They’re deploying artificial intelligence, for instance, so that crucial information for crucial decisions,” Kolman explains.

“We also see this in educational publishing with publishers providing reliable teaching material that can significantly support the learning outcomes of students. We can even teach students how to navigate in the new world where informational uncertainty is simply a fact so that they are better prepared for the future to come.”

Michiel Kolman is Senior Vice President, Information Industry Relations and Academic Ambassador Emeritus at Elsevier. He earned a Ph.D. in astrophysics from Columbia University, where he studied as a Fulbright scholar.

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