Re: Zeno's Paradox and the Road to the Optimal/Inevitable

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Thu, 5 Jun 2003 12:29:22 +0100

I am sorry to have to remind my friend David Goodman that (in my
quotidially confirmed and reconfirmed opinion) this focus on trivial
formatting matters (such as PDF) is not only not useful practically (to
would-be self-archivers), nor revelatory of any of the real retardants
on self-archiving; rather, it is yet another redirection of attention
and energy on a non-issue -- attention and energy that could have been
devoted to self-archiving! (Perhaps in this generic sense only, it *is*
representative of the -- always groundless, yet seemingly also bottomless
-- sources of Zeno's Paralysis that, like symptom-transfer, keep being
adduced in place of eprints!):

    "Zeno's Paradox and the Road to the Optimal/Inevitable"

    "Prima-Facie FaQs for Overcoming Zeno's Paralysis"

Comments follow:

On Wed, 4 Jun 2003, David Goodman wrote:

> Steve, you have the numbers right but the implications backwards:
> >
> dg> If old versions of Word are a problem, then WE (the preachers) ought
> dg> to remove those impediments to getting it into archives.
> >
>sh> WE preachers are few, whereas THEY (authors) are many (about 2,000,000
>sh> peer-reviewed journal articles are published annually).
> The conclusion I would draw from it is that it is easier to get the few
> preachers to change, than the many authors.

David, it is not misunderstanding about PDFs that is delaying the filling
of archives (otherwise at least the hundreds of thousands of papers that
are already in, say, the latest version of MS Word, which is perfectly
capable of generating PDF, would would have been self-archived
yesterday!). PDFollies are merely one among the many non-issues -- 28 at
least, at last count:
-- that are nickel-and-diming, if not the actual non-archiving itself,
then the ad-hoc non-explanations of the non-archiving!

This is all vacuous stuff! All it shows is that the *substantive* token
has not yet dropped in researchers' minds. I am willing to bet substantial
amounts of research-grant and researcher-salary money that once
researchers understand, clearly, the direct causal connection between
research access and research impact, and how self-archiving will maximize
it, they will no longer be fussing about PDF!

But in the meanwhile, we preachers do better to focus our very finite
resources on the substantive access/impact issues rather than the
bottomless pit of vacuities such as PDF:

> similarly,
> >
>sh> They are in the Eprints documentation. Every Eprints Archive need only
>sh> inform its depositor community.
> And this attitude is, as every librarian knows, unrealistic. We have
> devoted enormous effort to making sure that users read
> documentation. Almost none of them do. The sort that do, become
> librarians. It is up to the professionals running the systems to make
> sure they work for the ordinary users, ignorant as they may be of what is
> important to us.

Fine. Then let the many distributed librarians, at the many distributed
universities, use their good offices to help their own researchers
self-archive, locally. This is not an issue for the preachers, who
are few, and working to inform researchers about *why* they need to
self-archive in the first place!

Stevan Harnad
Received on Thu Jun 05 2003 - 12:29:22 BST

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