We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Locked in the Ivory Tower: Why JSTOR Imprisons Academic Research

Click here to access article by Laura McKenna from The Atlantic.

As has often been observed, under the system of capitalism everything, including knowledge, tends to become a commodity from which capitalists derive their profits, with major capitalists benefiting from added influence over governments. This author while writing for this capitalist media source only alludes to this characteristic. The headline suggests that JSTOR is the bad guy. However, the substance of the article points the finger at publishers.
The publisher is key, because he needs money to print and distribute the journal for its tiny community of readers. To make that money, the publisher sells the rights to an academic search engine company, like JSTOR. For the publisher, this venture is highly profitable because, unlike traditional publishing, the publisher does not have to pay the writer or editor. It only has to cover the costs of typesetting, printing, and distribution.
There has recently been a slight improvement in this situation. This article from Tadween Publishing reports:
After years of restricted access, JSTOR announced on January 9 that it will make the archives of more than 1,200 journals available to the public for free, giving those who sign up for an account with JSTOR the ability to read up to three articles every two weeks.