ATG Hot Topic of the Week: A Carnival on the Politics of Information

by | Oct 2, 2012 | 0 comments

by Jonathan Harwell, Rollins College

News is busting out all over, just like October here in Florida (highs only in the upper 80’s!).  As we in the US prepare for the first presidential debate of 2012, here are some quick hits on the politics of information.

ALA President Maureen Sullivan has written “An Open Letter to America’s Publishers” about Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Penguin refusing to sell e-books to libraries.

Hugh Gusterson of George Mason University is urging faculty not to give away their editing & reviewing work to for-profit journal publishers.

As you’ll recall, Timothy Bowers of Cambridge University has pushed for a boycott of Elsevier, as The Economist explained in February.  I’ve noticed that people are still talking about it.  My own research involves Quaker culture, and a Quaker scholar, Chuck Fager, had this to say last week via Facebook (shared with permission):

“There’s something right on time here: a couple thousand scholars are refusing to deal with a big-time publisher of learned journals, for price gouging among other actions to control access to information that needs to breathe free.

Scholarly publishing generally has much of the stench of scam about it, as I have encountered in the tiny Quaker corner of this domain: books of Quaker “theory” that are less than 300 pages but are priced at $100 or more. Mostly I’ve gotten them free as review copies; but otherwise, very few [F]riends meetings have library budgets that can afford them. This keeps…what useful information that’s in them within the circles of a very tiny guild, which is deeply dysfunctional.

So here’s a shout-out of solidarity to the scholars boycott described in this piece; let’s hope those in the mini Quaker guild will join them, and find ways to break out of this old routine and make their work widely available to Friends at large.”

PLOS, SPARC and OASPA have released a draft of “HowOpenIsIt?”, a guide to open access, for public review and comment through October 8.

Jake Porway of DataKind has a short video introducing us to how data can be used “in the service of humanity.”

The Chronicle has picked up Jenica Rogers’ public comments about ACS pricing.

John Dupuis has a quick review of Peter Suber’s book Open Access, which will be open access 6 months after the publication date.

And California has passed legislation to promote open digital textbooks.

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