Friday, March 8, 2013

Editorial: World Transport Archives-- and how we read in 2013

We have recently set up a collaborative program entitled the World Transport Policy and Practice Archives, which you can find at  The goal of this project  is to eb-cafe-lighterprepare and publish in easily readable form the content of all of the editions of the Journal of World Transport Policy and Practice  that have appeared since its founding in 1995, and which until now have been available only in hard-to-reach print or more recently PDF form.

The thesis behind this excercize is that all too often valuable information and insights that appear in book or journal from tend over time to disappear from the scene, as much as anything because they are bound between the covers of the publication. Now in many instances this may be a blessing, but there are others in which it can be a real loss. And in this particular case it is my personal position that in the case of the quality of insights contained within the seventy volumes that have been published over the last eighteen years, many of the articles are worth a second or more read. Hence the Archives project, which you can now find handily at

Let me show you an example from the past.  Today as part of this project we posted the full contents of Volume 6, Number 1, 2000, the first electronic or PDF version of the journal which contained a handful of thoughtful pieces by Paul Tranter, Peter Lonergan, Peter Newman,  Jeff Kenworthy, Jörg Beckmann, Edward Akinyemi, Mark Zuidgeest,  Pnina O. Plaut and Deborah F. Shmuel, along with a striking editorial by John Whitelegg.  As I was preparing it for publication in this new form, what struck me as I read them one by one was how fresh these ideas are, and what a pity that they were not more widely (and freely) available.  Until now that is.

And how we read in 2013

And since it is 2013 and since many of us are actually changing the ways we read - without in most cases actually being aware of it -- we thought that here too there may be an additional justification for this initiative.

One of the considerable advantages of our putting this content on line in this manner is that they are now fully searchable, which was not the case with the paper or PDF versions. You will see how that works on the top right column on the site. where you will find no less than five search engines, each with its own purpose for searching what you want to find.

But that is not all.

Now we have laid out this edition so that it makes an agreeable read on an iPad, tablet or larger smart phone. We have chosen to do this because we observe that people -- this author included - do not by and large do very well at reading longer pieces on their computer monitor. Too many conflicts and calls for our attention.

So let me recommend this when you have a moment. If you are seriously concerned with the issues and challenges of  sustainable transport and sustainable cities, and you want to take a bit of time to hear what these authors had to say on the subjects which continue to persecute us today, find yourself a comfortable place to sit, far away from your computer, pull out your favorite portable reader, pour yourself some tea or a glass of wine, and spend a bit of time with these thoughtful people who have much to say about the challenges we face today.  This can be a very agreeable experience. Under these circumstances the sense of haste and time disappear and the contents take on their own full flow.  You are, in fact, reading, just like in the old days before you became glued in front of a large box. You will, I am sure, be surprised and impressed. At least I was.

Please have a look and tell us what you think. Is  this a worthwhile exercise, or might it possibly be just one more waste of effort and time? I think not, but it would be good to have some other views on this.

Eric Britton, Editor

The  World Transport Archives -

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