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A Scientist and the Web


We are living in Occupied Scholarly Territory


[This is a short post as I am testing whether I can post from my guest room (I probably can't blog from the main lab)]. I shall explore this theme, probably getting even more angrier that I am.

We have ceded the homeland of Scholarly Publishing to the commercial closed access publishers. For me the only true goal is that we regain the ability to control our scholarship – authoring, publishing, reading, re-use. I don’t see many people actively formulating this goal and doing something about it. I don’t think many people, even in the OA community, actually care about this. I haven’t formulated it well, but that’s because there has been a 10-year vacuum of thought and action.

There are two intermediate positions: Green, which cedes the moral right of publication to the publishers and negotiates scrappy deals on the least profitable land. “You can grow hay on this plot as long as you continue to let us exploit the best land. You can only do this during these months (because we say so) and if you are too successful we’ll find another way to stop you”. Green OA is appeasement. It has no political force and is entirely dependent on the whim of the publisher. For me NO OA mandates should even think of green. (Hybrid is even worse, we pay the publishers twice to remain under their control).

Gold, which says nothing about the means of production. It gives the readers rights, and these are sufficient for readers if full CC-BY is applied. (It makes no concession to the innovation of the web.) It gives the authors no rights, other than to make their work available to the world. It does not allow them freedom of expression or freedom of innovation in the publishing process. That’s not to say it isn’t useful in the interim but the publishers are still occupying our homeland. Some publishers do understand this and are moving, but the OA offerings from major (closed) access publishers still treat authors as second class (or worse).

What we need for OA is a clear political manifesto (we don’t have one) and clear courses of action.

Where is the Open Access Salt March?

Where are the Open Access busses?

Where are the Open Access Suffragettes?

Where are the people who have gone to court and possibly to jail for their beliefs? Mumbly platitudes (such as the lamentable Florida State university cop-out) don’t change the world.

On odd days of the week (this seems to be one) I despair. On even days I think we are winning.

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