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Launch Site PaperContent

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Filed in Education & Learning.

PaperContent is all about learning and knowledge sharing at the "last mile" (academic papers).

Wikipedia is a fantastic tool for learning concepts within popular knowledge domains such as science or history, but it fails to attract the latest knowledge coming out of academic and corporate research.

Academic papers are becoming more open-access and pre-print servers such as arXiv provide an easy way to access a huge amount of research. There are tools for downloading and cataloging these papers for your own research, such as ReadCube, but they fail to build a community forum for people to ask questions, get answers, and provide useful summaries. Much of this might happen in a university journal club or between peers in a graduate school classroom, but then that knowledge isn't shared to the world. It really should be.

Everyday people wanting to learn about the latest and state-of-the-art developments in a focus area can use Wikipedia to get to a certain point, but there's a "last mile" problem between research and Wikipedia. You can either dig through hundreds of academic papers by searching for titles, reading abstracts, and choosing which ones to read. However, this is a difficult and time-consuming process and has the added complexity of highly academic vocabulary, so few people bother. Alternatively, you can wait for a researcher to gather many papers together and publish a book on the subject, such as How to Create a Mind by Ray Kurzweil. These are pleasurable reads and are stocked at bookstores like Barnes & Nobles, but they are infrequently published and are consumed faster than new titles can be produced. What's needed is a different way that is easier to consume than academic papers (both in vocabulary and searching) and easier to publish or contribute to than full books.

In more specialized contexts, such as software development, there are several tools that can generally be branded as a suite of knowledge sharing: stack overflow, documentation, quora, blog posts, technical news, Google Groups, forums (like Discourse and Reddit), and so on. However, these are disjoint, generally unrelated, and are usually accessed by starting out with a Google search. I think there's a better way to encapsulate this core goal of knowledge sharing. These tools will continue to exist and that's a good thing, but we can use their best concepts to move knowledge from academia to the general public.

For example:
* Quora, Stack Overflow, Discourse, and Reddit all have methods of rewarding quality discussions (through upvotes or likes),
* Stack Overflow prevents deeply-threaded discussions, yet does a great job of answering questions,
* Quora attracts a lot of professionals and is generally less strict on rules than Stack Overflow,
* Wikipedia makes it easy to ascertain knowledge from a simple search and perusal,
* Google Scholar indexes many academic papers,
* and in-person journal clubs enable people to collaborate together to fully understand a paper.

Keeping this all in mind, our first step is to start with wiki-type pages based off of academic papers and being able to find academic papers (and their respective wiki pages). From there, we will build in the various "best parts" of the previously mentioned apps, encouraging community and sharing knowledge along the way.

We have a long way to go, but we're excited and hope you'll join us in our journey.

More details can be seen at:

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