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July 16 2012



Stevan Harnad, professor of electronics and computer science at Southampton University, said the government was facing an expensive bill in supporting gold open access over the green open access model.

He said UK universities and research funders had been leading the world in the movement towards "green" open access that requires researchers to self-archive their journal articles on the web, and make them free for all.

"The Finch committee's recommendations look superficially as if they are supporting open access, but in reality they are strongly biased in favour of the interests of the publishing industry over the interests of UK research," he said.

"Instead of recommending that the UK build on its historic lead in providing cost-free green open access, the committee has recommended spending a great deal of extra money — scarce research money — to pay publishers for "gold open access publishing. If the Finch committee recommendations are heeded, as David Willetts now proposes, the UK will lose both its global lead in open access and a great deal of public money — and worldwide open access will be set back at least a decade," he said.

Free access to British scientific research within two years | Science | The Guardian 2012-07-15
Reposted bypaket paket

March 21 2012


Consumers in the Information Society: Access, Fairness and Representation


Free ebook

Members of Consumers International (CI), the only global campaigning voice for consumers, came together from around the world to discuss and set an agenda for advocacy on these issues, at the first global summit Consumers in the Information Society: Access, Fairness and Representation held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 8 and 9 March 2012. This book contains the research reports and working papers presented at that conference.

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March 20 2012

Play fullscreen

Evolutionary biologist Michael Eisen made this t-shirt design in support of the Elsevier boycott.

Academic research is behind bars and an online boycott by 8,209 researchers (and counting) is seeking to set it free…well, more free than it has been. The boycott targets Elsevier, the publisher of popular journals like Cell and The Lancet,  for its aggressive business practices, but opposition was electrified by Elsevier’s backing of a Congressional bill titled the Research Works Act (RWA). Though lesser known than the other high-profile, privacy-related bills SOPA and PIPA, the act was slated to reverse the Open Access Policy enacted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2008 that granted the public free access to any article derived from NIH-funded research. Now, only a month after SOPA and PIPA were defeated thanks to the wave of online protests, the boycotting researchers can chalk up their first win: Elsevier has withdrawn its support of the RWA, although the company downplayed the role of the boycott in its decision, and the oversight committee killed it right away.

But the fight for open access is just getting started.

Seem dramatic? Well, here’s a little test. Go to any of the top academic journals in the world and try to read an article. The full article, mind you…not just the abstract or the first few paragraphs. Hit a paywall? Try an article written 20 or 30 years ago in an obscure journal. Just look up something on PubMed then head to JSTOR where a vast archive of journals have been digitized for reference. Denied? Not interested in paying $40 to the publisher to rent the article for a few days or purchase it for hundreds of dollars either? You’ve just logged one of the over 150 million failed attempts per year to access an article on JSTOR. Now consider the fact that the majority of scientific articles in the U.S., for example, has been funded by government-funded agencies, such as the National Science Foundation, NIH, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, NASA, and so on. So while taxpayer money has fueled this research, publishers charge anyone who wants to actually see the results for themselves, including the authors of the articles.

Paying a high price for academic journals isn’t anything new, but the events that unfolded surrounding the RWA was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It began last December when the RWA was submitted to Congress. About a month later, Timothy Gowers, a mathematics professor at Cambridge University, posted rather innocently to his primarily mathematics-interested audience his particular problems with Elsevier, citing exorbitant prices and forcing libraries to purchase journal bundles rather than individual titles. But clearly, it was Elsevier’s support of the RWA that was his call to action. Two days later, he launched the boycott of Elsevier at, calling upon his fellow academics to refuse to work with the publisher in any capacity.

Seemingly right out of Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point, researchers started taking a stand in droves. And the boycott of Elsevier continues on, though with less gusto now that the RWA is dead. It’s important to point out though that the boycott is not aimed at forcing Elsevier to make the journals free, but protesting the way it does its business and the fact that it has profits four times larger than related publishers. The Statement of Purpose for the protest indicates that the specific issues that researchers have with Elsevier varies, but “…what all the signatories do agree on is that Elsevier is an exemplar of everything that is wrong with the current system of commercial publication of mathematics journals.”

The advantages of open access to researchers have been known for some time, but its popularity has struggled.

It’s clear that all forms of print media, including newspapers, magazines, and books, are in a crisis in the digital era (remember Borders closing?). The modern accepted notion that information should be free has crippled publishers and many simply waited too long to evolve into new pay models. When academic journals went digital, they locked up access behind paywalls or tried to sell individual articles at ridiculous prices. Academic research is the definition of premium, timely content and prices reflected an incredibly small customer base (scientific researchers around the globe) who desperately needed the content as soon as humanly possible. Hence, prices were set high enough that libraries with budgets remained the primary customers, until of course library budgets got slashed, but academics vying for tenure, grants, relevance, or prestige continued to publish in these same journals. After all, where else could they turn…that is, besides the Public Library of Science (PLoS) project?

In all fairness, some journals get it. The Open Directory maintains a list of journals that switched from paywalls to open access or are experimenting with alternative models. Odds are very high that this list will continue to grow, but how fast? And more importantly, will the Elsevier boycott empower researchers to get on-board the open access paradigm, even if it meant having to reestablish themselves in an entirely new ecosystem of journals?

As the numbers of dissenting researchers continue to climb, calls for open access to research are translating into new legislation…and the expected opposition. But let’s hope that some are thinking about breaking free from the journal model altogether and discovering creative, innovative ways to get their research findings out there, like e-books or apps that would make the research compelling and interactive. Isn’t it about time researchers took back control of their work?

If you are passionate about the issue of open access to research, you’ll want to grab a cup of coffee and nestle in for this Research Without Borders video from Columbia University, which really captures the challenge of transition from the old publishing model to the new digital world:

[Media: Michael Eisen, Open Access, YouTube]

[Sources: ChronicleThe Cost of KnowledgeLibrary JournalNYTimes]

January 23 2012

October 30 2011


Friedrich Kittler 1943 - 2011 | in memoriam - obituaries - Nachrufe

Friedrich Kittler obituary | 2011-10-21

Philosopher and media theorist known as the 'Derrida of the digital age'

For Friedrich Kittler, both technology and education should be open and free | 2011-10-29

The late German theorist was a great admirer of Bletchley Park – and championed an approach that valued arts and science


Zum Tod von Friedrich Kittler | 2011-10-18

Zum Tod von Friedrich Kittler sind heute im Laufe des Tages die ersten Nachrufe erschienen. Es folgte eine Zusammenstellung der interessantesten Artikel, ganz subjektiv absteigend gewichtet:

August 24 2011


"Il faut sauver Wikipedia" | OWNI

E. Legros Chapuis - Today, 12:43 PM

"Il faut sauver Wikipedia" | OWNI

Le nombre de contributeurs de Wikipedia diminue. Syndrome des experts que l'encyclopédie en ligne voulait éviter et faible adaptation aux nouvelles exigences du web expliquent en partie ce déclin, analyse Cédric Le Merrer.


D’abord les chiffres : jusqu’à 90 000 en 2010, les contributeurs actifs n’étaient que 82 000 en juin dernier. Beaucoup sont persuadés que la chute du nombre de contributeurs n’est qu’un phénomène naturel : l’encyclopédie serait complète et surtout Wikipedia reflètant les centres d’intérêt de son contributeur moyen, “un geek masculin de 26 ans” selon son fondateur Jimmy Wales, l’encyclopédie manque fatalement de points de vue féminins et non occidentaux.


Mais cette baisse somme toute assez limitée cache un phénomène plus alarmiste : Wikipedia ne correspond plus aux usages en vogue aujourd’hui sur le web, après avoir été pourtant le symbole le plus évident du web 2.0. Reposant sur des outils de programmation dynamique, facile à modifier sans savoir programmer, Wikipedia était avant tout ce qu’en font ses usagers. Que s’est-il passé ?


Symbole des mutations de l’époque, Wikipedia reflète aussi les aspirations libertaires de son fondateur. Jimmy Wales est un libertarien, un individualiste qui ne croit ni en la “société” ni en la légitimité d’aucun gouvernement. Le projet Wikipedia découle donc de cette idée que tout un chacun peut apporter ses connaissances. Un de ses mythes fondateurs sera celui de la mort de l’expert : tout le monde est un expert de sa propre expérience, nous sommes tous égaux devant la machine, il n’y a plus d’experts. Wales est aussi un représentant de l’idéologie californienne, celle de Google et de la Silicon Valley, selon laquelle les ordinateurs permettraient d’organiser les interactions humaines pour le meilleur. Nous sommes tous égaux devant la machine.



via E. Legros Chapuis 

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