Something that I have had me eye on for quite a while is now available from the System Dynamics Society: a file containing all papers published in our field's first journal, Dynamica.
Starting in 1975 with the founding editor Graham Winch, Dynamica published 23 issues in 10 volumes. I make it a total of 110 articles, if my arithmetic has not been thrown off by my excitement in finally getting this material. Because the good news is that I am not getting special treatment here; all of these papers are now available to all Society members.
Since I was asked to be the 'test subject' here are my suggestions, comments and recommendations.
GETTING THE FILES
This material is easy to get, please follow these Instructions:
Use this link and go to: ftp://systemdynamics.org/Dynamica_1975-1984.iso
1. Download the file 'Dynamica_1975-1984.iso' from the link. (The file is almost 300 megabytes, so pace yourself!) (you may have to choose to save the file if it does not download automatically.)
2. Regardless of the browser you use, be sure to download or save this file to your computer's hard drive or desktop.
To turn this .iso file into a set of materials that you can use. the best thing to do is to copy it to a CD/DVD. Most (but not all) writers will convert the .iso file. You may need to check on exactly how that will work for you and/or get appropriate burning software. However, I have Roxio and this was very straightforward to create the CD from the .iso file:
3. Insert a blank disk in the recorder drive.
4. Double click on 'Dynamica_1975-1984.iso'.
5. Click the 'Burn Image' button to continue.
USING THE FILES
What you will then have on you CD/DVD is two files and a folder. The files are called 'index.htm' and 'with abstract.htm'. The 'articles' folder contains pdf files, organised by volume and issue number. These are best accessed by one of the other two files, with things working pretty much the way we have got used to for our conference proceedings. Opening the 'index.htm' gives you a little explanation about Dynamica and a 'hot' list of volumes and issues, with author names and article titles given. Choosing an article simply moves you to a good quality scan of the article. You can save as a separate file, or print out, or just read.
The 'withabstract.htm' file works in a similar way but contains the articles' abstracts as an aid to choice and navigation.
(In fact, these articles are also included in the System Dynamics bibliography in the form of Endnote entries. Since these contain key words also, I would recommending downloading the most up to date bibliography along with the Dynamica file.)
What you find is historically interesting - but also more than that. Naming no names, I was surprised to find ideas discussed that I had always thought originated in later publications. So these papers are worth getting for those (and it should be all of us) interested in correctly recording the provenance of ideas; Dynamica is worth checking for those 'first mentions'. More than that, the papers contain some very interesting work that deserves re-visiting and talking forward. There are excellent research ideas that deserve to be taken forward.
A lot of work has gone into making this material available. To write the original papers, of course; to organise the whole project in 2005 and onwards; and to scan all of this material in. I would like to thank all of those involved - and to encourage all those seriously interested in our field to take advantage of the fruits of this newest Society project.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a lot of reading to do...