The Longest Now


Adapt Now Or Be Disintermediated, says @FakeElsevier

Reed Elsevier’s received a scathing critique by The Street’s Jared Woodward this week, who bets heavily against its stock [RUK] :

We regard the common stock as an implicit naked short put option because, while the upside potential from the publishing division is limited, the downside risk from any revolt by its customers (libraries), laborers (academics), or funders (governments) is not.

Woodward incisively covers everything from the academic-run The Cost of Knowledge campaign countering the Elsevier-backed Research Works Act, the Federal Research Public Access Act proposal to enshrine Open Access as a requirement of all government funders, a similar EU mandate, the UK recruiting Jimbo to help draft a similar policy for all UK-funded research by 2014, Harvard’s faculty memo on deep and broad Open Access support, the stunning successes of PLoS One and Rockefeller University Press, and @FakeElsevier‘s tweets and blog.

@FakeElsevier is a pseudonymous academic who has been sharing satirical posts and tweets about Elsevier since February. The subject above is from one of the more popular blog posts: “Dear Elsevier Employees, With Love, From @FakeElsevier.

Take a look at Woodward’s report: It’s an exhausting and exhilirating read.

Federal Research Public Access Act



Awesome 1-yr Wikipedia Fellowship open at Harvard’s Belfer Center
Thursday April 26th 2012, 10:55 am
Filed under: international,meta,popular demand,wikipedia

Wikimedia and Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs are looking for a Wikipedia Fellow to work on-site in Cambridge, Massachusetts for a year, on topics related to international security.  From the full jobvite posting :

The Wikimedia Foundation and Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs are accepting applications to be a Wikipedia Fellow at the Belfer Center, for one year starting July 1, 2012.

This is a full-time position, tasked with

  •  improving the quality of WP articles related to international security:
  • liaising between the Wikimedia community and Belfer Center experts, facilitating resource sharing;
  • coordinating projects and events, online and in-person, to support improving Wikimedia projects.
  • working with faculty, staff, and fellows at the Center to increase understanding of and participation in Wikipedia and other free content;
  • sharing this experience at Harvard with the global community of Wikipedians, and among academics, via articles, blog posts, and multimedia.




Aaron Swartz vs. United States

(echoes of a broken system)

UPDATE: Aaron committed suicide on January 11, 2013.(!) More on his life here.

Aaron Swartz is a friend and Cambridge-area polymath whose projects focus on access to knowledge, open government, and an informed civil society.  He has worked as a software architect, digital archivist, social analyst, Wikipedia analyst, and political organizer.  Last year he co-founded the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and the non-profit political advocacy group Demand Progress.

He is also currently charged with computer fraud by the US Attorney’s office, in what appears to be the latest example of “a sweeping expansion of federal criminal jurisdiction” based on the broad applicability of wire fraud and computer fraud statutes.  An overview:

 

Background

Aaron has studied institutional influence and ways to work with large datasets.  In 2008, he founded watchdog.net, “the good government site with teeth“,  to aggregate and visualize data about politicians – including where their money comes from.  That year he also worked with Shireen Barday at Stanford Law School to assess “problems with remunerated research” in law review articles (i.e., articles funded by corporations, sometimes to help them in ongoing legal battles), by downloading and analyzing over 400,000 law review articles to determine the source of their funding.   The results were published in the Stanford Law Review.  Most recently, he served for 10 months as a Fellow at Harvard’s Safra Center for Ethics, in their Lab on Institutional Corruption.

He contributed to the field of digital archiving, designing and implementing the Open Library, which serves as a global digital resource today, and as a foundation for any digital libraries in the future.  And he collected 2 million  public-domain court decisions from the US PACER system — a system that nominally makes all such decisions available to the public, but in practice keeps them hidden behind a paywall — to add to Carl Malamud’s collection at resource.org.  (That work in turn gave rise to the crowdsourced RECAP project.)

 

The Case of the Over-Downloader

Last week, Aaron was charged by a grand jury with computer fraud [1], for allegedly downloading millions of academic articles hosted by the journal archive JSTOR, and exceeding authorization on MIT and JSTOR servers to do so.

JSTOR claims no interest in pursuing a legal case.  However they are not part of the prosecution, and Aaron faces a possible fine and up to 35 years in prison, with trial set for September.  You can support his legal efforts online.

The Association of College and Research Libraries notes that both the prosecution and Swartz’s supporters have characterized the trial with “superficial, and deeply incorrect, messages about libraries and licensed content“.

So how did this come to pass, and what does it mean for the Internet?

Details of the case and public reactions it inspired, after the jump.

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