Re: Open Access piece by Walt Crawford

From: <>
Date: Fri, 20 Aug 2004 08:24:56 -0700

Very briefly,

Given the tone of Stevan Harnad's response to my response, and David
Goodman's excellent commentary, I would add only a few small points:

   SH: I have learned, though, and no longer speculate. When will WC learn?

When will I stop engaging in modest speculation? Probably never (while I'm
still around and still thinking). Looking toward future scenarios with
significant possibilities of becoming real is, I believe, an essential
aspect of evaluating current situations--and, ideally, trying to avoid the
most negative future scenarios.

   SH: I do feel somewhat heartened though -- and I am saying this
   seriously now, not sarcastically -- that someone has actually read
   something I have
   written, and carefully enough to quote it against me when the time came!
   I had become convinced -- by the endless resurgence of the same old
   arguments, year after year after year, without even a hint of awareness
   of the fact that they had ever been answered -- that no one was reading
   or paying any attention to anything I said or wrote on this subject. WC
   has paid some attention here, and that's not nothing (even if he has not
   yet learned!).

I've been reading (some of) Stevan Harnad's work for many years now, with
some degree of care. If SH has been reading my stuff on libraries and
scholarly access, he may be aware that I'm aware of most of the
frequently-answered-challenges and tend to be a little impatient with those
who continue to assert them as challenges.

Have I learned from SH's work? Sure. Does that mean I'm convinced by
everything he says? No. If that's the definition of "learned," then I'm
incorrigible. Sorry. Peter Suber and I have agreed to disagree on some
nuances of OA, while continuing to read and think about what each other
says. I think that's the best SH can hope for: I continue to read and think
about what he says, but am unlikely to "learn" in the sense of accepting it
as The Truth or agreeing entirely with his positions. Do my own thoughts
and positions change over time? I hope so.

   SH: I have done a 10-anniversary analytical critique of what of my
   original 1994 "Subversive Proposal" has since proved right and what
   proved wrong.
   (It's a healthy exercise. I recommend it to everyone.)

I'll certainly read that analytical critique, and agree that it's a healthy
exercise: I'd already decided to do a 10th-anniversary review/critique of
one of my most controversial books. Can't say that I'm looking forward to
it, but I think it is a healthy and important exercise. (I'll probably
publish the results as well...)

   SH, quoting me: I devoted a column in the largest-circulation library
   periodical in the world [to the posting on which Harnad commented]... I
   have no way of knowing how many other lists Harnad's response was sent
   to, although I'm aware of at least two. Those who wish to are certainly
   welcome to forward this reply.

There's a parenthetical misunderstanding here. My "column in the
largest-circulation library periodical" had little or nothing to do with my
posting. Rather, it had to do with making OA archiving more effective by
making the results more readily available to libraries and their users, as
alternative sources of full-text articles. I was deliberately setting out
to improve the real-world usefulness/impact of OA (archiving and
publishing), which may indicate my overall attitude toward OA.

Here's the specific citation, and it's still available freely online (as
far as I know), and certainly in several aggregated databases:
"OpenURL Meets Open Access," The Crawford Files, American Libraries,
February 2004. To reach it--not attempting to give a specific URL given
ALA's wonderful web system--go to ALA (, click on the link for
"American Libraries," click on the left-side link for "The Crawford Files,"
click on "2004 columns," then click on the February title for full-text

Some people might also be amused by my own idea of an optimal future for
journal publishing, which appeared as the May 2004 column: "Journals
Revisited: A Survivable Future." Note that I say amused, not convinced.

(Rest of original not quoted, since you've already read it and I don't see
any need to respond.)

-walt crawford-


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Received on Fri Aug 20 2004 - 16:24:56 BST

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