A history of Open Access and the fight to make knowledge free for everyone
Throughout history, libraries have been built with the goal of providing spaces for gathering and making the world’s knowledge available to all. Such places have historically allowed anyone to access and learn anything contained within the library so that the knowledge of a few could quickly become the knowledge of many.
The largest barrier to the realization of this dream of universal knowledge was the necessity that individuals travel long distances to get to these libraries. But with the existence of the internet, this dream is becoming a reality. Websites like Wikipedia provide comprehensive archives of information.
The internet presents the same promise for academic publishing – the area from which most new knowledge is generated. Not only does it present a way for academics to share their work more easily, it provides a means for fellow scholars to discuss and contribute to each other’s work more quickly. It has also allowed the work of academics in non-Western countries to gain more prominence in the global community.
It just makes sense. After all, most of this research is publicly funded and should be provided as a public good.
Unfortunately, the academic publishing industry is largely controlled by a handful of massive, monopolistic, profit-driven publishers. Academics pay publishers billions of dollars each year to, ironically, make their work harder to access and build upon.
In a detailed history of Open Access publishing, Ars Technica provides a fascinating look at the struggle to free academic publishing from restrictive copyright and the barriers erected by these large, multinational publishers.
Calling for an expanded Canada Pension Plan
Today Canadians will learn weather the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) will be expanded to meet their needs, or if the Liberals will continue to bend to the will of the private banks and anti-tax ideologues. The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) has suggested the financially tested and sound call for a doubling of the CPP to be introduced just in time for new workers to benefit. It is a plan that is needed given the state of the Canadian economy. It also means that this generation will pay for that increase in retirement savings on their own and not put undue financial pressure on future generations.
The tricky Liberals may incorporate several of these damaging cop-outs and hope that the public doesn’t notice: excluding low-income workers, raising the income cap, or an increase to CPP that is gives below 50% of your income in retirement.
BC Liberals skewing tax in regressive direction
A former BC government worker is charging that the British Columbia Liberals are padding their books with net revenues from the BC Hydro crown corporation. The charge is that, by increasing the company’s debt instead of supporting Hydro directly, the government is using hydro rates to pad the government budget. Unfortunately, this is an incredibly regressive way to go about filling the fiscal hole caused by reduced income taxes. The government may be paying its finances off of BC Hydro’s finances for political purposes. BC Hydro is a great public asset and should be used to support the transition to the mass use of green electrical energy for all British Columbians, not paying for politically motivated tax-cuts.
Miners Memorial Weekend
On July 27, 1918, Albert “Ginger” Goodwin was shot dead by federal police. A coal miner and labour activist, Goodwin organized workers at mines and metal works. Initially found physically unfit for service in World War I (due to the black lungs he’d developed from mining), his labour activism was so disruptive that the government conscripted him anyway and when he fled into the woods, he was hunted, shot, and killed by the police.
Almost a hundred years later, the legacy of Goodwin, his fellow activists, and the miners of Cumberland (including those of Chinese and Japanese decent) live on as part of the annual Miner’s Memorial Weekend. In addition to the memorial there were readings, film screenings, town tours, sing-alongs, and lots of great discussions.
The politically motivated murder of Labour MP Jo Cox by a fascist sympathizer exposes the depth of the hole into which UK politics have fallen. Both the campaigns to Leave and Remain in the EU have devolved into the worst aspects of rightwing populist rhetoric. Both campaigns are focusing on fictitious negative issues. The Remain side claims that decoupling from the EU will result in economic devastation and the Leave side is focusing entirely on the racist claim that “non-white migrants will flood the UK and take your jobs”.
Unfortunately, the Labour Party has relinquished control over the narrative of the campaign to the Conservatives by adopting a policy of soft support for staying in the EU. As such, there is no rational actor advocating for leaving the EU with both the far right and far left appealing to reactive divisive politics.
Gun control should be part of larger demilitarization campaign
In the fight for better gun control laws, the current struggles seem so difficult that many would rather put aside broader conversations around demilitarization. But sometimes it is in considering what comes next that activists can better shape the arguments and goals for what should happen now.
In her latest column, Nora Loreto considers the larger context of the gun control debate and the need for discussions about disarming everyone, including the police.
A security-based argument for computer science education
Computer science is seen as a niche area for research and study, but should be broadened. Even a recent article on Fox News highlighted that computer literacy is necessary to secure the state and companies against cyber attacks.
Using the same logic, the expansion of general education to all the areas of academia – from the sciences to philosophy to art to social sciences, history, and economics – is essential to national security. Better yet, it is essential for democracy.
Instead of using the fear of attack to drive the growth of general education in broader fields of study, computer education should be seen as a basic tool for engaging in modern society, economy, and the democratic system more broadly. As an aside, similar conclusions could be made by reading the 1944 CIA sabotage manual.
.1. When you are down, the International Noise Conspiracy has the solution:
.2. Selda Bağcan is an anti-government psychedelic rocker from Turkey. When she wasn’t in jail she was banging out awesome tracks like this:
.3. Other songs this week: