Opening Session – Olivier Dumon

Olivier Dumon, Managing Director for Research Products, Elsevier.


Thank you, Mr. Chairman, thank you President Baracchi for inviting me, thank you all for being here. I wanted to take the opportunity to share with you what we are building at the Elsevier and why. I think it is relevant to this debate about the next generation of the internet so I have prepared some slides that I wanted to share with if that is ok.
As the slides are coming up hopefully in a few seconds I wanted maybe…
I think the slides are coming up right now. Sorry about that. Just making sure.
So maybe as a pre-amble – prior to joining Elsevier a few years ago I was running the search engine of eBay the marketplace which at that time was the fifth largest search engine in the world with four-hundred fifty million (450’000’000) queries a day and over the years I have developed some understanding of information systems and what is going on so that is what I wanted to bring to the discussion today. Maybe a quick word about research communities – because this is what we do at Elsevier – we’re trying to help research information. Research communities exchange information and the way research communities thrive is by exchanging information.
And what we have found is that researchers spend up to a quarter of their time researching existing information. You know this phrase: “building on the shoulders of giants?” It’s actually true, right? There is no such thing as new knowledge.
People come up with new knowledge by taking existing knowledge associating ideas among themselves and coming up – by associating ideas – with new knowledge. And this is what this chart is trying to say. So, I am a member of a community, my community is computer science. And I do research – of several patents myself. And when I have something that is presumably of interest I want to share it with the world. And then I decide the way of sharing that knowledge could be – we would want to believe at Elsevier – via a drawn article but in my community, it’s mostly via a conference. It could be via writing a book chapter, it could be via writing a blog post or anything else of course.

So, if Information exchange is at the centre of knowledge creation, of course, in research communities. If I move to the next slide and talk a little bit about has happened in the previous change in the internet. We went from the search era on the internet to the network era. What defined the search era of course is google right? You and I, when we wanted to search for information we would go to a search engine and try to retrieve or come up with the most intelligent query or request and try to come up with the best information to answer our intent.

In the new world, what defines me as an internet user is no more the information that I’ve posted but my tribe. My network. Who I am connected with. If I am connected to Stephane here in the first row what connects me, what defines me is no longer what I post on my wall but of course the fact that in some cases I like or do not like and I abstain from reacting to what Stephane is posting on his wall, right? So again, what defines me in the new internet is my tribe.

In the next generation internet which is the topic of today. I think what will define us is the convergence that several of the speakers have talked about today. The fact that the digital world and the physical world are gonna converge and Im going to give you some examples of that, right? If you think about your digital personality you have one professional identity on LinkedIn for some of us. You have one personal Identity maybe on Facebook for example. As a researcher, I have several profiles – up to ten profiles which are my digital identities. And today my digital identities are quite separated from myself, as a person. My belief is that those digital identities and my personal identity eventually will converge. One element of proof – it’s meant as a joke – when I look at my fifteen-year-old, right? And how much trouble she gets to sleep when one of her Snapchat stories is not being liked as much she wanted, that tells me that her digital life is having an influence on her physical life. And in that case, she cannot even sleep. So more seriously.

We are becoming cyborgs. The relationship that were having with our phones is incredible and someday we will merge with our phones that is hard to envision today. So, when you ask people under 20 how they would live without a phone for two days they react very strongly and they say they can’t. They cannot live without a phone.
On average we check our phones every ten minutes – and that’s how addicted we have become to this, right? If I move on to the next slide.

Let me tell you a little bit more of what we are building as an example of what is happening to the Internet. In the nineties – in the mid-nineties what happened is that research articles became digital objects. And it was a very big revolution at the time people talked about the P2E – the print to electronic revolution at the time. Very soon after that, people – some very smart people – had the intuition that if normally can we make articles digital objects, which we should extract knowledge by building an understanding of relationships between research articles as digital objects. And that’s what people called the citation graph. Relating articles as an entity to other articles, by people referring to one another, as you remember from our previous slide.

We want to link an idea – a novel idea – a research article to the founding that came to it – the award or grant, the research article that was published, the lab that published it, the researchers that were involved but actually the patent that was issued as a result, the drug that was eventually invented and potentially the social impact that this drug had or the media mentions that this invention had. We’re going to make links between the different research entities. There are about thirty-nine research entities in the *inaudible (1:52:28) of research. We’re going to link all those entities together. So that’s what we are working on as we speak.
The next generation of what we are working with as we speak, is what I call the knowledge graph. We are going to deconstruct the article as an object and we are going to go back to the assertion level. In fact, if you think about an article – it’s a pdf object – a digital object. What’s way more important is to understand the assertions – what is really the novel ideas in this article. And what we want to do is to build a knowledge graph within the article. Relate the core researchers to the data models – the researched data that led to the method section, the people that were involved, so we are going to go from 39 of research entities to millions of research entities and we want to eventually connect all the assertions to one another and that’s what I think will define the next generation internet if you move on – I’m pressed on time – to the next slide. This is how it looks like.

Relating – in this graph here the nodes are people and we are connecting people so in this graph we are going to make this graph live in a few months you will be able as a researcher to position yourself in the map of research. In seeing how you can connect to other people leveraging the co/author of the graph – the people you have co-authored it with, the citation graphs the people you cited and people who cited you and eventually again the next level is linking you as an inventor of new knowledge to the related assertions that you connected with in the knowledge map of research.

And the final and last thought that I would share with you is that nothing I described earlier would be possible without user privacy and trust. Who can we trust with our data? As a researcher, who can I trust with my data? As a citizen, it’s obvious to all of us that everything you have done today. From waking up in the morning to taking breakfast to taking a shower eventually to taking the train, landing here, and everything has been recorded digitally – everything you do. This speech that I’m making is will be recorded. Everything we do now is recorded. We have data about everything.
For example – let me give you an example – all the steps I’ve taken today are recorded in my phone, for example. The food I’ve taken today was recorded somewhere in the bill of the restaurant I’ve paid when I’ve had lunch, right? All that could be available to a health provider. For what purpose? Those are the questions that the next generation of the internet are raising for us and again, my keyword, Robert, would be trust. That’s my keyword.
Generation of the internet are raising for us and again, my keyword, Robert, would be trust. That’s my keyword.

Day 1