Re: EPT's Barbara Kirsop on OA's Priorities

From: Stevan Harnad <amsciforum_at_GMAIL.COM>
Date: Mon, 16 Nov 2009 08:13:37 -0500

On Sun, Nov 15, 2009 at 9:19 AM, Jean Kempf <> wrote:

> High enegy
> physics (#1 in OA) has very little to do with "solving the world's
> plights". The same can be said of most social sciences and all
> humanities. They ARE part of science and research though, and are
> also concerned about OA.

I think you have misunderstood Barbara Kirsop's standpoint, which is
the developing world's pressing problems. They are not the sole
motivation for OA, but they are certainly among the most compelling
and urgent.

(But, yes, advancing esoteric scholarship -- likely only to increase
our knowledge and culture, whose gaps are felt to be a "plight" by
only a very few -- is also part of OA's ambit, and has been all along.
One could make a similar point about "public access to publicly funded
findings of health-related research." )

> Although [we need] Green OA, and.. mandates (all of us fully
> agree with this), the real INTELLECTUAL and POLITICAL issues today
> [and] near future are with gold OA. We need to develop completely new
> concepts and machineries... for the scientific publication of
> tomorrow... Green OA is like .pdf : you don't really
> change anything [in] the way you write and publish, just.. the way you
> disseminate... not... radical [enough]

One of those minor, insufficiently radical changes being that all
users can access and use it, and no longer just those whose
institutions can afford to subscribe to the journal in which it was

This sort of argument, as pointed out before, is like the argument
that although we all agree that we need to mandate recycling, it is
not radical enough, for we need to change to biodegradable waste.
(It's the best getting in the way of the better.)

I, for one, would not want to keep deferring the immediately reachable
solution for waste management (mandated recycling) while continuing to
ponder and promote more radical hypotheses that are not yet within
immediate reach -- at least not while they keep distracting us from
mandating recycling...

> by the time Green OA (which despite its "simplicity" seems to be less than a
> natural" move) becomes universal, Gold OA will be with us... everywhere!

It's interesting how tried, tested and proven practical solutions that
are within reach but not being grasped can be (in one's mind)
overtaken by fast-forwarding hypothetical "concepts and machineries"
that are not even within sight. It's one's speculative reach exceeding
one's practical grasp. And it certainly has been slowing (Green) OA
for 'lo these (at least) 20 years in which we could already have had

Stevan Harnad
Received on Mon Nov 16 2009 - 13:15:50 GMT

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