The Ginsparg-initiative has given a fruitful answer to the
preprint service and its archiving. It is at present run at a
National Research Center.
The Physics Societies should take means to guarantee that this service is available on a long term basis, -even if the LANL were closed,- and extend it to other fields of physics. Thus the physicists worldwide should be urged to join using the server. The Physics Societies should either take over the service, or mirror it, or delegate it to companies with the respective boundary conditions.
It should be accompanied by setting up servers at all physics laboratories and give access to all physicists to the web. This is more an educational task.
In addition, the Physics Societies should set up dedicated electronic services in specific fields, including the exchange of data, the coupling of computers and programmes.
Furthermore a huge task is the set-up and offering of information providers, filters, dedicated work-surfaces, retrieval assistance, etc. This is a whole new market and needs all kinds of professions, software writing, distributors, librarians, editors, etc.
The properties of such services being developed by the prospective users, the service and installation is best in the hands of the Societies or their cooperating industrial partners.
Whether some of the present industrial bodies such as publishers, libraries, distributors, are taking the pole or whether new structures will form, should peacefully be left to the indsutrial competition. The present large international publishers and the University Libraries do have the advantage of a large staff of professionals and an established set of referees. So, if they enter they will be transformed but survive. But probably other, even new companies with less inertia, may have a perfect chance. Since one cannot forsee the future development, and has no means to steer it , we here should not point a direction but offer to all willing to participate our collaboration.
Personally I think, we all should try hard to cooperate with all parties, Physics societies, publishers, librarians, willing to search for the best way to cast the future, to have enough expertise, strength and audacity on board.
Forming task forces addressing specific topics small enough to be flexible and fast enough, but containing enough breadth could be best: joint work-groups of the APS, EPS or some of their societies, a publisher, a software house, and a few University departments, groups or libraries.
The results of these experiments should be presented and discussed internationally. Setting and organizing the scene for a full fledged sensibilization and discussion of the world-wide physics community is at present the main task of the Physics societies instead of fixing new standards too early.