February 27, 2013

"Aaron Swartz Was Right."

"The current academic publishing system is prettied-up extortion. He defied it, and the rest of us should too."

I'd like to read that article, but it's in The Chronicle of Higher Education, and a subscription is needed for access.

Ironically.

ADDED: From the article (by Peter Ludlow):
If anything, Swartz's ["Guerilla Open Access Manifesto,"] understates the egregiousness with which this theft of public culture has been allowed to happen....

[T]he articles in JSTOR were written with government support—either through agencies like the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, through state-financed educational institutions, or through the tuition of students and the donations of alumni.

Once a student graduates from her college she no longer has access to JSTOR—even though her tuition supported the research that went into the data represented there. She may go on to be a generous donor to her college and still not have access to JSTOR. You have to be a faculty member or student to have access, even though, to some degree, everyone helped pay for that research....

Until academics get their acts together and start using new modes of publication, we need to recognize that actions like Aaron Swartz's civil disobedience are legitimate. They are attempts to liberate knowledge that rightly belongs to all of us but that has been acquired by academic publishers through tens of thousands of contracts of adhesion and then bottled up and released for exorbitant fees in what functionally amounts to an extortion racket.

When Swartz wrote his manifesto he pulled no punches, claiming that all of us with access to these databases have not just the right but the responsibility to liberate this information and supply it to those who are not as information-wealthy....

Aaron Swartz's act of hacktivism was an act of resistance to a corrupt system that has subverted distribution of the most important product of the academy—knowledge. Until the academy finally rectifies this situation, our best hope is that there will be many more Aaron Swartz-type activists to remind us how unconscionable the current situation is, and how important it is that we change it.
Much more at the link, if you can get in there.

46 comments:

Darrell said...

The account is free and probably worth every penny.

Darrell said...

They'd like to be able to sell your personal information because that is how the bastards roll. Resist.

Michelle already has your info.

St. George said...

I heard Swartz's friend Cory Doctorow speak on his book tour a few weeks ago.

A second tragedy is that the Average Joe is never going to understand this story. Swartz was a genius, a prodigy, a guy who helped revolutionize our use of the Internet, and he was hounded to his death by over-reaching prosecutors.

Eventually, the government is going to similarly over-reach against someone, a folk-hero type person, whose case the Average Joe can understand.

AllenS said...

Unless your politically connected, you might spend some serious time in prison for possession of an empty, dangerously high bullet magazine clip.

Darrell said...

A second tragedy is that the Average Joe is never going to understand this story.

Well, it doesn't help that Swartz had a long history of serious depression and had attempted suicide before. Maybe Cory Doctorow should have kept an eye on his good friend.

The prosecution was bullshit nevertheless.

jr565 said...

Even if he was right in theory, , he wasn't entitled to download the millions of articles. So, he wasnt in fact right.
Libertarian arguments notwithstanding.
Ad he was a creator. Why couldn't he create an alternative that would work better? That would be right.

jr565 said...

"The current academic publishing system is prettied-up extortion. He defied it, and the rest of us should too."

I'd like to read that article, but it's in The Chronicle of Higher Education, and a subscription is needed for access.

Ironically.


So, if I said the chronicle of higher education is prettied up extortion which should be deified, I guess that means I'm entitled to all the work on that site without a subscription.
Yet again, hypocrisy rears its ugly head, and here we have someone advocating for defiance against a company or a university behi d the safety of a firewall. Fuck that

AllenS said...

Ironically

Would anybody mind if I used Althouse's profile picture for some stuff I want to publish? After all, a subscription isn't needed for access.

ooonaughtykitty said...

Did any of you catch the story about the Techcrunch guy who had his boat confiscated by DHS?

www.uncrunched.com

jr565 said...


I heard Swartz's friend Cory Doctorow speak on his book tour a few weeks ago.

A second tragedy is that the Average Joe is never going to understand this story. Swartz was a genius, a prodigy, a guy who helped revolutionize our use of the Internet, and he was hounded to his death by over-reaching prosecutors.


Bullshit. He's in the situation he was in because he decided to appropriate what wasn't his asked on a cause based on a faulty and immoral premise . Being a content creator he should have known better, and could have used his brains to come up with an alternative to that which he found evil.
And as per the prosecutors they offered him a deal that would amount to six months in jail.which he didn't take.

The idea to take his life was his own. Should he, if he's willing to do the crime, be wiling to do the time? Many moral heroes have gone to jail to defend their principles.

EDH said...

The current academic publishing system is prettied-up extortion.

"If you mention extortion again, I'll have your legs broken."

Bryan C said...

"So, if I said the chronicle of higher education is prettied up extortion which should be deified, I guess that means I'm entitled to all the work on that site without a subscription."

I think her "irony" is not referring to the Chronicle, which is a dull, mediocre periodical, but to the specific article topic.

Anyway, the answer to your question is yes: all the academic work that's funded by public money should be freely available to the public that just paid for it. The current academic publishing model relies on taking work they didn't pay for and charging everyone else to read it.

cubanbob said...

The government was willing to give him a three month deal in exchange for a guilty pleading. Instead Swartz chose to excersize his right to a trial and the government threatened him with fifty years. That is the real crime, extortion by the government for not submitting to extortion. This was a political prosecution. That was even admitted to by someone involved in the prosecutor's office. Someone needs to go to jail and that someone is the prosecutor.

edutcher said...

If Madame doesn't want to spend money on a subscription, it blows Shout's complaint about how rich she is right out of the water.

Colonel Angus said...

Who is this guy?

Ann Althouse said...

"The account is free and probably worth every penny."

You think you can get into that article without paying? Here's the link. Let me know how it worked out for you.

I would think the Chronicle would want the traffic. I'd like to be able to blog their items, but I can't.

Now, I've put up the link, so they're getting traffic. Hopefully, they see that people are just giving up and not trying to get in.

Darrell said...

You think you can get into that article without paying?

Yes...according to the links that came up with a Google search--ones that are associated with colleges and universities.

https://chronicle.com/myaccount/createfreeaccount

Creating a Chronicle account is free and easy. Follow the steps below and you can sign up for newsletters, comment on articles, participate in discussion forums, and use our suite of job tools to help you find your next job and enhance your career.

The Chronicle is committed to protecting your privacy and personal information. See our privacy policy for details.

Darrell said...

Since you are U of W faculty, does this apply?

Most campus faculty, staff, and students need access to password-protected services on a daily basis. For example, most will have the following passwords:
•NetID password
•EnterpriseID password
•Active Directory password


http://www.library.illinois.edu/learn/research/chronicle_higher_education.html

jr565 said...

all the academic work that's funded by public money should be freely available to the public that just paid for it. The current academic publishing model relies on taking work they didn't pay for and charging everyone else to read it.

it should be, according to whom? if it isn't what do you think the alternative should e, stealing it, diseminating it without permission?
It's not up to me, or you to decide what the charg for work SHOULD be. If you don't abide by the terms you don't get access .that simple.

Which again is why I say Schwarz should have built something to address the inequity you say is occuring, rather than trying to brisk in and appropriate stuff.

He built Reddit. He couldn't design a place where schools could host documents for free? If he is the controller of said site, he could set whatever terms he wanted, and then schools would decide whether those terms were good, and the public would decide whether they'd frequent his site, BASED ON THE TERMS SET.

The NYT put their content behind a firewall. I don't want to,pay for the content, so I don't get the Times content.

Simple as that.

jr565 said...

Darrell wrote:
Yes...according to the links that came up with a Google search--ones that are associated with colleges and universities.

the article,that Althouse linked to requires you to e a paid subscriber of either the print or online edition.and it costs dinero.

Writ Small said...

It took me under a minute with Google to find the full text copied elsewhere. I'll leave it to the reader to decide how much or little irony is involved.

Darrell said...

the article,that Althouse linked to requires you to e a paid subscriber of either the print or online edition.and it costs dinero.

But if you an get the content from the other routes--which they say you can--your point is moot. Uni people get free access and what is Alhouse? Yup.

One of AA's community college Lefties should access the article and copy and paste it here.

Darrell said...

It took me under a minute with Google to find the full text copied elsewhere.

Then why didn't you copy it here?

You ARE Swartz! Starve the Beast!

Darrell said...

Here, I'll start. . .

"Until academics get their acts together and start using new modes of publication, we need to recognize that actions like Aaron Swartz’s civil disobedience are legitimate. They are attempts to liberate knowledge that rightly belongs to all of us but that has been acquired by academic publishers through tens of thousands of contracts of adhesion and then bottled up and released for exorbitant fees in what functionally amounts to an extortion racket.

When Swartz wrote his manifesto he pulled no punches, claiming that all of us with access to these databases have not just the right but the responsibility to liberate this information and supply it to those who are not as information-wealthy.

“Those with access to these resources—students, librarians, scientists—you have been given a privilege,” he wrote. “You get to feed at this banquet of knowledge while the rest of the world is locked out. But you need not—indeed, morally, you cannot—keep this privilege for yourselves. You have a duty to share it with the world. And you have: trading passwords with colleagues, filling download requests for friends.”


Darrell said...

I want a Federal Country Club prison sentence. Make it for the rest of my natural life. I have simple needs. Sreaming video access would be nice--in fact it's kind of a deal breaker if it's missing. You can add those new charges for illegal streaming to my sentence to keep the ball rolling. Thanks!

Ben Morris said...

Whine, whine, whine. Gimme, gimme, gimme.

It's so not relevant whether universities get funding from the government or students or donations or whatever. That doesn't make them owe us a bunch of stuff we want, but didn't pay for.

It dosn't matter if they're being pigheaded or not. If you want public release of academic articles to be a condition of your funding, make it a condition of your funding! Or convince your government to do the same.

This idea that, "because the government didn't give me something I want, it's okay for me to just take it anyway"---which is what this boils down to---should be repulsive to anyone who's not a commited socialist revolutionary.

Anthony said...

I think the premise is fundamentally wrong. The journals are NOT making us pay for "work that was done on public money". The work was already done. The publication of the results can go anywhere, in book form, on a web site, in paper newsletters, in a magazine, etc. Whether the researchers choose to go the journal route or another is beside the point.

Amartel said...

Is the subscription required for the Chronicle of Higher Education a new thing? I don't remember there being a subscription requirement back a year or so ago when they fired one of their bloggers for criticizing African-American studies. Is it there to keep critics out?

Darrell said...

Content that used to be free and accessible no longer isn't. An extra layer of cost is being added to every research project and that is being passed along to every taxpayer. Science is being impeded.

Aridog said...

Althouse said ...

You think you can get into that article without paying? Here's the link. Let me know how it worked out for you.

1.) Okay...letting you know how it worked for me: for whatever reason, unknown to me, I am able to get in to that article without paying, or signing up for anything what-so-ever, in fact I can read today's articles, such as the one about reacquainting academia with the military.

2.) I am using Opera as a browser at the moment, for whatever that has to do with anything. I have no idea why I have access...my luck is almost never that good, or simple.

Darrell said...

They block content with a pop-up. Opera may not show those pop-ups. No mystery or magic at work.

Aridog said...

Darrell said...

They block content with a pop-up. Opera may not show those pop-ups. No mystery or magic at work.

I get a pop-up asking me to subscribe, identifying two versions. This pop-up has a little "x" in a circle at the upper right side...I click on the "X" and the pop up disappears, and then I can cruise the rest of the site unimpeded. Done it multiple times now.

Nope, not magic, I suppose, just wanted to let you know I get the subscribe pop-up in Opera, but can close it out without impeding access otherwise.

I'll try it in IE now to see what happens.

Aridog said...

Whoopsie...I am able to open the link in IE-8 even more easily than in Opera...no pop-up to close out at all....and I can still cruise the current articles at will.

Darrell said...

Google--and Microsoft-- made everyone switch to IE-9, from 8 last year. They refused to let you see content--like your Gmail.

Being an oddball seems to have worked out for you.

Aridog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aridog said...

Darrell said...

Being an oddball seems to have worked out for you.

Maybe so....but IE-9 cannot be used in Windows XP Pro+ operating system, which I cling to until I am forced of it entirely. We have three high end Dell computers of the dual core 32 bit types with 4 GB RAM (actual approx 3.5 GB usable)...they will not run the new 64 bit architecture Windows....nor will Windows 8 or later run most of our software, particularly Autodesk CAD and Micrographx stuff...without all new packages. Not sure about Adobe Acrobat Pro?

Down the road, later I hope, rather than sooner, we are going to get hit big in the wallet to retain our capacity.

As for "g-mail"...nah, if I wanted to share my email with the entire planet via the ever morphing Google+, I'd just activate Facebook and go commando.

None the less I have little doubt that everything I do is hackable some way....and if so, the world can bite me.

Aridog said...

Darrell said...

Google--and Microsoft-- made everyone switch to IE-9, from 8 last year. They refused to let you see content--like your Gmail.

Heh. Need to add that it sounds like they strenuously fixed something that wasn't broken.

The must be taking notes from the Apple play-book.

Darrell said...

Since IE-10 is out on Windows 8, they don't want anyone to miss out on the craptastic IE-9.

Aridog said...

Darrell said...

Since IE-10 is out on Windows 8, they don't want anyone to miss out on the craptastic IE-9.

Are you saying IE-10 is even more of the same crap as IE-9.

Way to go scaring me like that....when I know that it is coming ..... aggggh.

Darrell said...

No. I was "happy" (enough) with IE-8. (I have Vista Ultimate.) IE-9's tabs seem to close even when you right-click near the center or slightly left. IE-10 can't be used with Vista (as far a s I can see.) IE-9 has lot of freezes and restarts. And not much works better than IE-8.

chickelit said...

Althouse wrote...Much more at the link, if you can get in there.

I'd have wriiten: Much more at the link, if you can hack it.

Aridog said...

I guess I am now "HackerDog" since I'm just shit lucky by using old stuff...e.g. that which weren't broke and not fixed.

Blue@9 said...

Bullshit. He's in the situation he was in because he decided to appropriate what wasn't his

He was entitled to download every doc off JSTOR. The problem was that he chose to automate it with a script (rather than sit there and click a button every two minutes).

It should have been a simple civil matter. But hey, nothing like a mediocre bureaucrat on a power trip-- they've got to power to destroy you if you're too smart, too rich, or too something else in which they're deficient.

kentuckyliz said...

Here's what Aaron Swartz did not understand:

all the work he stole was already available entirely for free to the general public, student or not, including the research assistance of a professional librarian.

Community college libraries are a service to the general public and they subscribe to the database and journal services, and they serve all comers.

If Aaron Swartz wanted to liberate data, he should have gone to library school and got an MLS.

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