An alternative to the professional editorial board model that Varian suggests might include free lance web editors, web editors sponsored by professional organizations, cooperatives of universities or university libraries, or professional web editors whose primary forms of production entailed producing metawebs of electronically archived materials. These web editors would serve similar functions to that of the editorial board members of ex post journals and would receive credit for their editorial work as part of their professional development for tenure and promotion.
The biggest difference between this group of web editors and the editorial board members is that their responsibilities would likely extend well beyond simply reviewing five page abstracts and rating them. Web editors would likely build networks of interlinked resources that are available online and embed them within their annotated webs of disciplinary knowledge. They would build truly heterotopian sites that drew professional researchers, graduate students, admirers, armchair philosophers, and others to visit regularly and to contribute themselves.
Since these web editors would draw upon raw disciplinary archives to which all Internet goers had access, they would concentrate on providing specialized filtering services. As more of these specialized websites emerged, professional organizations, publishers, or other web editors might begin rating and evaluating these edited websites. Communities might form around a set of such websites similar to the Argos project. Some of these sites might end up becoming so specialized, as in the fields of law, medicine, or engineering, that participants might be willing to pay subscription fees for access. With so much material available online, only specialists would have the time and expertise to sort through the raw archive. If web editors of the future do not "belong to" one publisher, they are free to sell their services wherever needed. Of course, the turn-around time for filtering must be swift to satisfy the requirements and expectations of working scientists, lawyers, etc. who need the information quickly.
On the other hand, many of these websites would likely fall out of date quickly as web editors found themselves overwhelmed with the tasks they set out to accomplish. Established sites whose editors wanted to move on might simply pass the baton to another able editor or might sell the site to a clearing house information management broker who would in turn find a publisher or new web editor to take over the site. With the current academic job market in dire straits, new doctorates might choose to move into the web editing field rather than compete in a flooded teaching market. An entire new class of specialists might emerge and supercede editing functions currently operating in the publishing industry. As a result, the distribution of knowledge would, as Guillory proposes, drive production and academics would control both processes.
The limitations of such a system, however, are not insignificant. Lone web editors, or even small collaboratives, would have to charge for their services or seek funding from host institutions, publishers, or professional organizations. Resources for developing selective search engines like Argos' LASE or for expanded storage capacity or connectivity might be cost prohibitive. Publishing, library, university, or corporate archivists might supersede smaller web editor archives and make them obsolete.