Re: Reasons for freeing the primary research literature

From: Jean-Claude Guédon <jean.claude.guedon_at_UMONTREAL.CA>
Date: Fri, 17 Aug 2001 15:23:01 -0400

 I would add an extension to the public property argument: a bit like roads,
fundamental public knowledge ought to be considered as a basic infrastructure
for all kinds of other activities, including further public, fundamental
research as well as private, business oriented research. Roads, after all,
serve botht the public and private sectors at once and neither could get
along without roads. Roads are not par of a market in the usual sense of the
word; fundamental knowedge neither.

A similar argument has been used with regard to free source code operating
systems. If you want a healthy development of niche, commercial, software,
you need a good, open platform allowing everyone to compete on an equal
footing. As Corel found out, you cannot fight against MS-Office on top of
Windows. Companies could not compete in a healthy manner if one of them also
owned the roads; countries cannot enter the innovation game if they do not
have access to the literatue on acount of its costs.

In short, this public property is not simply public property; it may well be
public property playing a fundamental infrastructural role in our societies
and for the whole planet.

What do you think?


Jean-Claude Guédon

PS I heard a strange piece of news recently: a fellow apparently named Albert
Henderson has found himself incapacitated in some manner. I do not know the
exact cause, but what is clear is that his computer is spewing off a number
of messages from a fixed bank of statements, a bit like the mechanical Eve in
Villiers de l'Isle Adam's novel, L'Eve future. These statements, many of them
quite outrageous in their claims, and some actually funny, are found all over
the networks, a bit like the chinese cookies messages one finds on Unix
systems. I began to notice this phenomenon when I saw the same repetitious
claims recur regularly over this list. The worst part is that he appears no
longer capable of stopping his computer.

Does any know how to help break the kind of infinite loop in which this
fellow's computer appears to be caught. If he is still capable of thinking,
he may be getting a little embarrassed by it all, and he might be very
grateful for such charitable help.

Le 16 Août 2001 13:46, vous avez écrit :
> on Sat, 11 Aug 2001 Jim Till <till_at_UHNRES.UTORONTO.CA> wrote:
> > There's been much discussion, via this forum, about HOW the primary
> > research literature might be freed. (By "primary" research literature, I
> > mean original contributions by active and appropriately-qualified
> > researchers, where new knowledge, such as novel concepts, novel data, or
> > novel interpretations of existing data, are published).
> >
> > But, what about reasons WHY the primary research literature should be
> > freed? Here's my first attempt at a summary of some of the main reasons:
> >
> > 1. It should be done:
> >
> > - Information gap: Libraries and researchers in poor countries can't
> > afford most of the journals that they need.
> >
> > - Library crisis: Libraries and researchers in rich countries can't
> > afford some of the journals that they need.
> >
> > - Public property: The results of publicly-funded research should be
> > publicly-available.
> >
> > - Academic freedom: Censorship based on cost rather than quality
> > can't be justified.
> [snip]
> > What other important reasons have I neglected?

Jean-Claude Guédon
Département de littérature comparée
Université de Montréal
CP 6128, Succursale Centre-ville
Montréal, Qc H3C 3J7
Tél. : 1-514-343-6208
Télécopie : 1-514-343-2211
Courriel :
Received on Wed Jan 03 2001 - 19:17:43 GMT

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