Science and Academia which is taking place online is slightly different from normal Science and Academia. The reason is not only a technical problem with digitizing existing papers but a new kind of community. In the internet, the overall idea is not to research nature or make philosophy, the overall idea is to be online. That means, Internet works at first with digital information. And if a webserver is not online, he is not part of the internet. Science is only the second step, it is a special kind of content which is uploaded.
The most important fact is, that scientists from the offline world are not also good internet-scientists. The reason has to do with different cultures. The internet was it’s beginning a hacker project. It was driven by UNIX and Open Source. Later, also commercial companies are taking over the internet. But, the Hacker community plus commercial companies is a different culture like in offline science. Offline-science is oriented on groups of people. That means, it is important if a certain person is a scientist or not. It has something do with the personal biography. If somebody has worked 10 years at a university, then he is a scientist. But, this personal biography has nothing to do with the internet. In the extreme case, the scientist is not visible in the internet or only a part of him is visiable, for example, if he has a homepage.
Internet-Science works different. The main idea is, that the people are antonym and instead the information which are available for everyone are counting. For example, the typical online-forum consists of thousands of pages, written by bots, unknown persons. But the person behind the information is less important. The people are only a tool, what counts is the Online-forum itself. That means, the internet is per default open to everyone. This is not the case, in offline-science.
It is hard to tell which kind of science is better. From the perspective of Open Access the internet community is the better science. But from the perspective of technology advancement, the offline-science is more developed, because this is traditional science, which tokes place since centuries. The good news is, that it is easy to cartograph science which is took place online. The number of articles posted to Wikipedia can be counted exactly, and the number of hits google finds for a certain keywords can also be measured. And what Google is not know, this doesn’t exist. A way more harder is the idea to map the offline science. In my opinion it is not possible. Because, if it is not possible behind a paywal or behind a printed library, than we can not say which type of content is in there.
What we can say about offliine-science is, that it looks different from online-science. The second fact is, that it build around certain people. That means, not everybody is welcome, but only a minority. For example, to become member of a classical learned society, some preconditions must be fulfilled, and to become member of a library the same is true. The main idea behind offline-science is secrecy, while the main idea behind Internet-science is openness.
Let us take a look into so called conspiracy forums in the internet. The most important fact is, that they are existing. From the beginning, the internet was the number one place for talking about conspiracies. The reason why is simple: the internet has a lack of information. Only this content is available which was uploaded to the iinternet. And this is only a small part of the worldwide knowledge. The rest is part of speculation. Most conscpiracy forums are discussing the problem, which information is already there, but not visible for the public. And the idea is to reducing the gap. In most cases without success. Getting access to a certain commercial book is very hard, but getting access to really important knowledge is impossible. The result is, that the internet project can be called a failure, because the number of information there is limited. For most information, Google has no answer, but the information is out there. The problem is, that we must separate between online-available information and offline-available information.
But let us go back to offline science. The main idea behind offline science is power. Knowledge is some form of currency, and to have access is to is better than to have no access to it. This idea is not new, it can be traced back at least 500 years ago. A surprising fact is, that even all people are living on the same planet in the same time, not all people have the same information. The easiest form is the separation between people who have access to the internet and people who don’t. Having access is better, there is no doubt. But all people with internet access have not the same right. There is the next gap, between normal internet users, which are searching with Google and the first class internet users, who have apart from Google additional searchengines, for example Web of Science. The web of science website looks for the normal internet users boring. He sees a login form which asks for username and password, and around 99% of the internet population do not have an account there, so they can’t use the service. From the perspective of somebody with a webofscience account, these normal users have no internet, because they see less than he sees.
We can describe the distribution of knowledge as a game, which works around people. They are trying to get access to important information and they can win the game or loosing it. Wikipedia is also part of the game. The idea there is, that per default everybody is welcome. :The disadvantage of Wikipedia is, that the knowledge there is behind state-of-the-art. The reason is, that the user who are editing the websites are not experts but amateurs. They have their knowledge from public sources. What Wikipedia is trying to do is summarizing the knowledge from the public domain, and ignoring the offline-science. The funny thing is, that Wikipedia stays in contrast to real science. Offline science has also to do with physics, math and history, but the shared identity is different. Wikipedia is like the internet per default open to everybody, while offline-science is per default organized in societies.
Between online-science and offline-science is an intersection. Both is driven by people. The reason for take place in offline science is motivated by the search for wisdom, the same is the motivation behind people who are using the internet. The difference is the question what to do with the new knowledge. The answer of the internet is easy. Share it with others. In the offline science the answer is to hide the knowledge, because it is an asset. Both communities have developed incentives to regulate the actions of the community. For example, Wikipedia is based on the idea that people are contributing knowledge, while in offline science somebody who is not publishing a paper will get more money. How different online and offline science works can be seen in the forum https://academia.stackexchange.com/ The topics which are discussed there is “offline science” and how to behave right. The topic is not how to contribute to Wikipedia or how to upload a paper to Academia.edu. No, the subject is reduced to a certain kind of science, which takes place outside of the internet. For example, the latest topic is about “handling an editor”, https://academia.stackexchange.com/questions/105388/how-to-handle-a-possibly-biased-editor Only people who are involved in offline science will understand the question itself. It has to do with some special aspect of the peer-review system and possible actions done there. Not the editor of Wikipedia is adressed and not the bibliography which was posted in an online-forum, but it’s about a question of offline science. About the OP itself, I can’t say so much. Because offline-science is not very well researched, most of it is hidden behind paywalls and secrecy. But what we can say is, that the OP is irrelevant for internet-based science, because there are not editors, which have to be “Handeled”.
I do not see a direct competition between offline and online-science. I see only two systems which are working in parallel with different rules of engagement. The Internet-based online science has it’s background in the hackermovement, which took place in the early Unix based internet which was created in the 1970s. While the offline-science is much older and can be dated back in the history of mankind in general. To understand online-science better, I want to cite the declaration of John Perry Barlow, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Declaration_of_the_Independence_of_Cyberspace It is very young and was published 20 years ago. The core idea of the declaration is, that Internet and offline world are different.
The main idea behind cyberspace is, that it has no physical representation. It can be described as a game with self-given rules. Inventing games is not new, but the Internet is a game which is open to 7 billion people. The best example for conflicts between the independence declaration of internet and the real world, are copyright protected information. For example, a new movie can be accessed in a cinema, but can not be seen on Youtube. That means, the Internet is less powerful than the offline world. The same is true for copyright protected science documents. They can be read in a library, but not online in the webbrowser.
On the other hand, in some cases the internet is superior. For example, the Wikipedia can be read online, but until now, no one has printed out all the books for distributing it to the normal library. What the libraries have done instead is to buy a computer for show the online-wikipedia in their library.
Someone has called the text of Barlow stupid. But there is much truth in it. The core feature of the internet is, that somebody can enter a URL in a webbrowser and this gets him access to the information. That is something different, from what is normal in the offline world, where access to something is more complex. The interesting aspect on the internet is, that it was not invented as a revolution like for example the communism, which was trying to modify existing society, but Internet was invented as a parallel game which runs additional to the normal world.
For measuring the difference between offline and online-science better the Worldcat.org website is a good starting point. According to https://www.oclc.org/en/news/releases/2011/201127.html they have records for 500 million scientific articles. Most of them not as fulltext, but only as a bibtex entry. That means, Worldcat knows that the information exist, but if the user wants to read the paper he must go to a library. In contrast, the Google Scholar service provides access to around 50 million scientific articles which are searchable online. The difference between both numbers can be explained with the copyright law. It is so powerful, that online-science has less papers than real science.
Apart from the 500 million records in Worldcat, there are additional more articles which are not published in libraries but contains knowledge which was produced in the past. This hidden knowledge increases the gap further. The description is simple: offline science (real science) consists of 500+ million papers, written by scientists, while online science in the internet has only access to around 50 million papers and only a small amount of unique content like Wikipedia which was created for the Internet. I’m not sure if until now it is correct to speak about online-science, because it is mostly a subdivision of traditional science. I would the aspect more an extension of the unix culture, which means, that apart from books about programming and tcp/ip protocol some scienfitic related material was created with the aim to upload it to the internet.