New trojan email attempt?

I don’t really have time today to look into this but an email made it through spam filters purporting to be an animated “card” from some model on Adult Friend Finder. The file attached as a zip file. I’m sure there is something fun inside and I’m sure it will be infectious. Hope someone else can dissect this and let the world know.

Beansec this Wednesday!

Yo! BeanSec! is once again upon us. Wednesday, February 20th, 2008.

BeanSec! is an informal meetup of information security professionals, researchers and academics in the Greater Boston area that meets the third Wednesday of each month.

Unlike other meetings, you will not be expected to pay dues, “join up”, present a zero-day exploit, or defend your dissertation to attend. Map to the Enormous Room in Cambridge.

Enormous Room: 567 Mass Ave, Cambridge 02139. Look for the Elephant on the left door next to the Central Kitchen entrance. Come upstairs. We sit on the left hand side…

Don’t worry about being “late” because most people just show up when they can. 6:30 is a good time to aim for. We’ll try and save you a seat. There is a parking garage across the street and 1 block down or you can try the streets (or take the T)

In case you’re wondering, we’re getting about 30-40 people on average per BeanSec! Weld, 0Day and I have been at this for just over a year and without actually *doing* anything, it’s turned out swell.

We’ve had some really interesting people of note attend lately (I’m not going to tell you who…you’ll just have to come and find out.) At around 9:00pm or so, the DJ shows up…as do the rather nice looking people from the Cambridge area, so if that’s your scene, you can geek out first and then get your thang on.

The food selection is basically high-end finger-food appetizers and the drinks are really good; an attentive staff and eclectic clientèle make the joint fun for people watching.

Look for the red elephant!

Immediate Gratification: Harvard Open Access Decision

I would like to say that I had some hand in this but I didn’t. In fact I had been aware of the internal campaign by Stuart Shieber over the course of the last year but unsure of how it would play out. His success is paramount to the distribution of knowledge. Berkman Fellow Melanie Dulong de Rosnay describes the event in her blog post “Harvard goes Open Access”. Scholars will still have the ability to opt-out of this program. If they want to lose access to their own work then it is their option. Creating an opt-out mechanism however means that a letter has to be sent each time a journal convinces the author to give up these rights. This will be an amazing year for scholarly articles.

The Academic Journal Economy

I’m still fascinated by the academic journal economy. The recent Berkman Buzz had this interesting excerpt by Fellow Danah Boyd

“The economy around academic journals is crumbling. Libraries are running out of space to put the physical copies and money to subscribe to journals that are read by few. No academic can afford to buy the journal articles, either in print or as single copies. The underground economy of articles is making another dent into the picture as scholars swap articles on the black market. “I’ll give you Jenkins if you give me Ito.”

I hadn’t even thought about the physical space issue but I suppose when you pay $20,000 for a set of magazines you can’t really throw it out at the end of the year like that $1 copy of Wired. And despite working on this issue a bit last year it didn’t really hit me how bound academics were until I recently asked one for a copy of her article. It had an interesting title, which I still haven’t read due to course load, and the striking part is the hushed tones of the reply with a time stamp and conspicious watermark along the side of the paper. She felt guilt and fear over sending an interested reader a copy of her own work. And rightfully so. She isn’t entitled to distribute a copy of her own work because of the contractual obligations to her publisher. The copy I was sent is meant for her eyes only.

There is something inherently wrong with this. For every one academic who can afford $30 for a single print of an article are 3,999 more who would like to read the work but can’t afford to. Another 3,999 who would read the work but not find it interesting enough to include in their citations. While these numbers have absolutely no backing I can’t help but feel there are significant amounts of readers who would like to read but can’t afford to. So that one affluent researcher is in fact helping to deprive thousands of others of knowledge or simply a good night of reading.

If the economy around these journals is indeed crumbling I’d like to help. Some may point to the music industry argument that without these over priced publications quality peer reviewed articles would disappear from the world. I find both arguments equally flawed. Copying is so effortless that publication does not require a publisher. And unlike the music industry aggregation is not a problem within the academic community. Peer review will happen without intervention by large scale publication firms. The cream of human knowledge will rise to the top based on the merits of the articles. None of these things neccessitate publishers.

Like many reformists before me I realize the abrasiveness of my words. There is nothing more biting then to hear that you are simply unneeded, unwanted, and that everyone would be better off with out you. But simply put, academics do not need publishers who use artificial scaracity to inhibit the flow of knowledge they have worked so hard to produce. Academics do want their works to be read by as many people as would take the time to appreciate it. And academia would be better off without the publishers who dominate the journal industry.