#OSS2010: Rage against the Publisher-Industrial-Scientific Machine

Typed and edited into Arcturus

Sitting in the Free Speech Movement Cafe in Berkeley (see picture) it’s impossible not to get the sense of cataclysmic change. It’s doubly nostalgic in that it was followed a few years later by a similar rejection of the University status quo in the UK. I was warden of a hall of Residence in the University of Stirling when (in 1972) it publicly exploded its angst across the pages of the world. I was young (30) and although a lecturer was critical of the University administration and admired the drive for the students to Free Speech. I can’t remember the exact title but there was essentially a free speech forum where the students invited speakers with a wide range of views, often outside the pale and guaranteed their message would be heard politely, though not unchallenged.

This is echoed by a comment ( I’ll attribute if given the OK) to one of my posts on “Reclaim our Scholarship”:

Cue RATM: we gotta take the power back! πŸ™‚

[RATM = http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rage_Against_the_Machine ]

Listening to the presentations here I sense the same rage as in the sixties when that was against the Military-Industrial complex http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military%E2%80%93industrial_complex

This term was and is widened to Military-Industrial-Scientific Complex (e.g. http://www.counterpunch.org/grossman01152009.html ). This is a sad condemnation of much scientific endeavour – whether in industry or academia – and is caused both by rapaciousness of individuals and institutions . (Just listening now to Tim Hubbard on the failure of Bayh-Dole and the tech-transfer departments – essentially the model has failed to generate significant wealth and has inhibited the use of science for the general good.

So what are we raging against now?

The Publishing-Industrial-(Scientific) Complex.

Of course not all publishers are implicated and not all industries and not all scientists. But there is a core of corporate resistance, gatekeepers, micro-control, which holds our endeavour back.

If this doesn’t change rapidly the PIS-Complex will fracture. Whether it will be deliberate action or whether it will be the amorphous forces of the zeitgeist and technology I can’t foretell.

But I am conscious that my current actions and attitude are a constant drip of water onto the congealed mass. There are many other erosive forces. Change is in the wind.

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