The first question is a relatively simple problem.
Researchers have the utility of:
- some research being published in some rated venue: which will award them points according to some criteria.
- some research being cited, which will award also points according to some other criteria.
- some research being purchased: which will award some sweet additional income.
- some research being read: which doesn't award any points per se, but helps to create some buzz around it, get cites, funding, etc. This requires the research to be published before.
- "making a meaningful contribution to science/knowledge/understanding".
Look at the last bullet point, the rewards come from the inside of the researchers in that case, no raise, no money, no external reward. This means that if people focus on that too much they may not make any progress in their careers and they may actually fail in the search for funding or even a job. Therefore, successful people will have a strong interest/utility on the other points, the last one may or may not be important for them, but definitively secondary. They may say it's the primary goal, but they won't act like that, or they will fail. I'm an introvert and this sucks, but that is how the system is, it's mathematical.
The points and external rewards are very important. They may be important to finish a MSc or a PhD, to get a post-doc position, a job in industry, a tenured position, a raise, a project, funding, etc. But we are not done yet. They do also have resources to get some attention:
- social networks (twitter, linkedIn, etc.)
Do you remember the last point?, blogs seem to be perfectly suitable to making this kind of contribution, but they are not peer reviewed and they don't award any points, therefore, they are used like twitter. Get buzz, get attention, then link the paper so that people can read it. You can even summarize the paper in the blog so that people can cite it without actually reading it, which is wrong on so many levels that actually some of them cancel each other and happens to be right in some levels, at least IMHO.
Finally have some pieces of research that they can split like salami or maybe put together as a compilation to create a book, or they can even try to split, publish in conferences, then put together as a journal, then join with even more stuff and write a book.
So basically in the end researchers try to publish the research using the resources available trying to maximize the utility of their research, effort, time, publications, etc. Those who do it right (not focusing on the last point of the utility) get to do more and more research, and so the academia system works, and so it is driven.
Basically this is a problem of cybernetics. This is an emergent information system that is mostly driven in that way, with those dynamics and that convergence. Maybe we would have a better system if it was explicitly engineered and not emergent, but as usual, the ones that have the most power to change it are the ones that are most favored by the current system. There is always some strength in the stability of the status quo.
About the second question, the answer for me is "no". I guess that's why I'm here writing with a pseudonym.