Naturally, all our own news - and a general curiosity in how we are getting on following our merger earlier this year - meant that the flow of visitors to our stand was pretty heavy. As stand manager, I barely got a minute to pootle off and explore the myriad of wonders that is on offer at the Fair. But I did get to hear the gossip: there was a lot of talk about Collexis' new venture, a social networking site for life scientists which is pre-populated with author profiles and network connections gleaned from mining 6 million scientific articles. The site (which did, I'm sure, have a groovy name, but it's not in their press release and I've forgotten it) has been developed in partnership with German software provider Synyx. It will certainly be worth a look when it launches in January, though I wonder whether these two relatively small organisations have the critical mass and reach to engage the attentions of the global academic community (despite the "vanity factor" which may see authors checking in to authenticate and preen over their personal profile).
It might be worth Collexis and Synyx forging an additional partnership to help ensure uptake, and another of the "Frankfurt hot topics" would seem a good fit. CrossRef's Author ID project is making sound progress following its inception earlier this year. The plan (in summary) is to create a database of authors and assign an identifier to each which would then simplify the editorial and production processes of CrossRef member publishers, whilst also offering downstream benefits - such as enabling foolproof disambiguation within services such as the Collexis/Synyx network (I do wonder how they have managed to achieve this at the moment). CrossRef is well-positioned to achieve buy-in to something like this, and can cite the increasing usage of DOIs as evidence; they will also have the combined advocacy of their growing publisher membership, whose collective power to enforce usage of an Author ID (and thus to introduce any services related to it?) is formidable.