One Other Thought

I didn’t want to say this earlier, because that dude just died, but the most laughable part is the idea that anyone would give a shit if everything in JSTOR were widely and freely available. You know the number of people who would take advantage of that? In the whole world? I’m guessing–but it’s a pretty educated guess–at most, several hundred. Which, when compared to the population of the planet is “no one.”

No one wants to read scholarly writing. Sometimes we get together–the whole industry–and people are so worried about pirating. It’s hilarious. Who wants to pirate a university press book? We should be so lucky.

So, they hounded the one dude who actually thought our product had any value–who thought it needed to be as widely available to as many people as possible for the benefit of the whole world, who actually believed that what we’re doing matters–to death.

If we wanted to break his spirit, we should have just taken him to a typical university press opened their sales figures to him. Shown him how even libraries don’t want our stuff.

Freeing academic work is like freeing domestic chickens. Most of the flock doesn’t go very far anyway.

3 thoughts on “One Other Thought

  1. I’m guessing you know this already, B., but the prosecution of Swartz wasn’t about the JSTOR files. It was about making an example of someone who opposed the existing system; I think it was retaliation for Swartz’s other activism. In this vein the Obama administration is going well beyond Bush for chutzpah. They’ve prosecuted a number of government whistleblowers, while not spending one hour of prosecutorial effort to go after the crimes exposed by the whistleblowers.

  2. That depends on one’s perspective, B. Right now the system still reaps outlandish rewards for the elites that it is designed to serve. So you could say that it is still working according to its true purpose as it fails miserably to achieve its loftier ostensible goals. It isn’t in any way sustainable, either, but that doesn’t matter. The elites are global, and they can pack up and leave whenever the price of purifying water and hiring bodyguards gets too high.

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