Sunday, February 10, 2013

JSTOR

Universities have to pay thousands of dollars every year to read their own research online [..].

Step back and think about this picture. Universities that created  this academic content for free must pay to read it. Step back even further. The public -- which has indirectly funded this research with federal and state taxes that support our higher education system -- has virtually no access to this material, since neighborhood libraries cannot afford to pay those subscription costs. Newspapers and think tanks, which could help extend research into the public sphere, are denied free access to the material. Faculty members are rightly bitter that their years  of work reaches an audience of a handful, while every year, 150 million attempts to read JSTOR content are denied every year.

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I actually remember my first experience with these systems, when I went back to school and coming from the tech sector, I was unpleasantly surprised that I wasnt able to search and accesss all the world's academic knowledge through a simple search engine. JSTOR and related systems were very cumbersome to use. Universities having to pay thousands of dollars every year to read their own research online? This has to be the stupidest system mankind ever devised.

Looking at the recent progress of tech, one can say we are building the world pictured in Star Trek slowly but surely. Mobile communication: check, handheld computing devices: check, walking talking intelligent android: coming along slowly, voice recognition: check. But, in ST people could also search through shit very easily, access all the world's knowledge through simple interfaces. In fact this was the least glamorous part of the show, well, you need to learn stuff, sure, you just sit down on that machine, and start learning.

Duh!