Re: Poynder Again on Point on Institutional Repositories

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Fri, 3 Mar 2006 15:27:49 +0000

On Fri, 3 Mar 2006, Philip J Hunter wrote:

> If your goal is 'immediately reachable' and has been so for several
> years, how come it has yet to be reached?


As Arthur Sale and others have pointed out, buckling one's seat-belt and
extinguishing one's cigarette are "immediately reachable" but it sometime
takes decades to persuade people that it's in their own interests
to reach.

> I think other factors are in play beyond a plain inability to
> understand your arguments. Or is it that simple?

Yes, it's that simple, and yes, other factors are in play, at least 32 of

And as with seat-belts and smoking (and "publish or perish"), arguments
and even empirical evidence alone are apparently not enough to set
the practice irreversibly into motion, be it ever so optimal and
inevitable. Institutional policies are needed to induce people to do
the right thing, in their own best interests, within polynomial time...

And just as public health and insurance costs (rather than individual
good sense and self-interest) are what drove institutions to mandate
seat-belts and to forbid smoking, so institutional mandates based on
the impact-income costs of *not* self-archiving are what is driving
institutions and research funders to mandate it (just as they mandate
publishing itself).

> I'd be interested to know if you (or anyone else) paid Richard Poynder
> the suggested $8 dollars to access his article.

The first and foremost rule for making sense of OA is to make the
all-important PostGutenberg distinction between give-away and
non-give-away writing. It is that distinction -- together with the new
online medium itself -- that has made OA possible. *Richard Poynder is a
journalist who writes for a living.* The authors of peer-reviewed
journal articles, in contrast, are not. They write for maximal impact,
and it is their impact that earns them their living.

Think about it. You may get some insight into what OA really is, and

Stevan Harnad

> <snip>
> Those who prefer leisurely fussing with the curation/preservation of
> arbitrary digital contents of any and every description will of course
> have plenty to keep them busy for decades. Eprints, in contrast, has an
> immediate, already-overdue mission to fulfil, and it is becoming clearer
> and clearer that -- with some prominent and invaluable exceptions -- the
> library community has found other rows to hoe.
> Richard has proposed that it might be time for a parting of paths
> between the Generic Digital Curation/Preservation IR movement and the OA
> IR movement, and he might be right. One has a diffuse, divergent goal,
> the other a focused, convergent -- and urgent and immediately reachable
> -- goal, one that might now be hamstrung if it is subsumed under the
> diffuse, divergent goal of the other.
> For the details, please see Richard's article.
> Stevan Harnad
> <snip>
Received on Fri Mar 03 2006 - 15:46:01 GMT

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