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Howard Ratner

Chief Technology Officer, Executive Vice-President for Nature Publishing Group

Having been a member of the SSP for more than 10 years, Howard Ratner is familiar to many within the Society. His contributions to implementing standards and leading progress in online scholarly publishing have earned him a reputation as an authoritative figure in the industry. Howard has graciously taken the time to share his background and interests for this month’s SSP publishing profile.

Howard’s established career began as many do in Publishing—copy-editing and researching (Chelsea House Publishers), then moving on to various book and journal production positions at Wiley and Springer. He became increasingly more involved in technology and internet activities leading to his last position at Springer as Director, Electronic Publishing & Production. For the last seven years, Howard has been the Chief Technology Officer, Executive Vice-President for Nature Publishing Group. In this role, he is “in charge of all US operations and has global responsibilities for Production and Manufacturing, Emerging Technologies, Web Development and Operations, and IT across all NPG products.” In addition, Howard notes “I am also an occasional instructor at the NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies – introduction to interactive publishing – built a class around web 2.0: blogs, RSS, widgets, social bookmarking, the long tail, in all dimensions of publishing including journals, magazines, books, and music.”

For those who attended the recent SSP annual meeting, he served as the moderator for the pre-conference event on Microsoft Office 2007. In addition to his work with the SSP, Howard serves on the board of directors for CrossRef and CLOCKSS, a member of the CCC Publisher Advisory and the STM Future Lab committees, and as the lead of the CrossRef Technical Working Group and Web Services. As you can imagine, Howard “greatly enjoy(s) finding new ways to streamline the production and distribution of content—online and print. Of course this leads you on to collaborating with great people. Most of the initiatives I have had the fortune of being involved with always benefited from having many publishers involved.”

What’s the best part of working in scholarly publishing? His response is concurrent with what you’d expect from the CTO of the 2008 Webby Award winning site nature.com: “My favorite part of being in scholarly publishing is having helped bring XML, RSS, podcasts, Second Life, and social bookmarking and networking to the forefront in the minds of scholarly publishers.” When asked about significant changes in publishing over the last two years, Howard responded, “librarians and scientists are expecting and viewing online as the main thing—which used to be ancillary. Newer generations of consumers want to access online information in a different way—at their place, in their time, and in their preferred format.”

Howard is a busy individual, but does find time for a few activities outside of work. A self proclaimed “computer game enthusiast”, he also enjoys playing tennis and spending time with family.

You can view Howard’s regular contributions to the Scholarly Kitchen at http://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/.

Profiled August 2008