Tag Archives: rant

Do they think we’re stupid?

27 Feb

Shorter Elsevier:

For anyone who doesn’t know why I’m referencing glorious 1980s cartoons in relation to a major publisher of scholarly journals, here’s the quick rundown of today’s event that I wrote for the SLA Academic Division blog, presented here in its entirety because I freakin’ wrote it.

As a follow-up to our earlier post regarding the Elsevier boycott, the publisher released a statement today indicating that they have withdrawn their support for the Research Works Act.

The statement is worth reading in full; while Elsevier will no longer openly support the RWA, they still oppose government efforts to require the open release of research:

Therefore, while withdrawing support for the Research Works Act, we will continue to join with those many other nonprofit and commercial publishers and scholarly societies that oppose repeated efforts to extend mandates through legislation. 

Long story short, this debate is far from over, and it remains to be seen whether those participating in the boycott will consider this policy change sufficient.

When I write under SLA Academic’s auspices, I try to be a bit reserved. But here, let me make it clear:  in no way, shape, or form is this change in policy sufficient for anyone to change their minds about how truly terrible Elsevier is.

I mean, how much more blatant could they make it? “Our most recent attempt to quash efforts to undermine our extremely profitable racket of stolen labor and institutionalized extortion has failed, because seriously, y’all have made the letters ‘RWA’ completely toxic. But as soon as we come up with a slightly revised law under a different name and send it to our pet Senators and Representatives, we’ll be right back in the game, baby.”

They’re not giving up. They’ve told us that clearly.

We can’t give up either.

A bit of Wikileaks follow-up

6 Dec

Here’s some more information on the Wikileaks cables issue I ranted about on Friday. I posted it over at SLA Academic because, seriously, if you’re an academic librarian working with a program that trains up future diplomats or analysts, this is something you need to know.

Can I just say how thrilled I am that our government is so dedicated the locking the doors of empty barns that it’s willing to limit itself to hiring only those applicants who’ve proven willing to remain ignorant of material available to analysts in Russia, Iran, and the rest of the world? Or maybe just to those who are willing to pretend that said material is still secret in some way that actually means something.

In which I touch on matters vaguely political

3 Dec

I generally don’t get into my politics here, but that’s something that may change. Lately it’s become increasingly obvious to me that any attempt to separate one’s politics from the rest of one’s life is completely artificial. I try to maintain that artificiality here for a number of reasons, but recently three issues have hit a bit close to home, or at least to this blog’s purview.

First off, this story from the Huffington Post about the FCC Chair’s pathetic and transparent acquiescence to corporate interests on net neutrality. I confess to knowing little about the issues surrounding net neutrality prior to writing an issue brief on the topic for library school, but suffice it to say that the profound effect that net neutrality policies will have on the future of information access and dissemination cannot be overestimated. The fact that promises to set policies that would preserve net neutrality are being disregarded in favor of providing corporations with exactly what they want is reprehensible.

Second, as more and more libraries face budget and staffing cuts, and as more and more people find themselves without work, everyone in America should be calling their representatives in Congress and demanding the extension of unemployment benefits. Seriously, whether it’s out of empathy for your fellow citizens, concern for yourself, or just wanting to see the economy improve, this one is a no-brainer.

Finally, there have been reports that the Library of Congress has cut off access to Wikileaks for its staff and for the wireless network available to its patrons. I’m hoping this is an error, but betting it’s not. My take on Wikileaks’ actions is that they are neither treasonous attacks on the lives of our troops and public servants, nor a lethal blow against American imperial hegemony. Rather, I think they strike at two elements of American political culture desperately in need of change: the pernicious culture of secrecy that pervades far too many government offices and agencies, and the reprehensible culture of servility that saturates our media where the government is concerned. We shouldn’t be shocked that Wikileaks has revealed these things: we should be stunned that our government spends so much effort keeping such things secret, and horrified that our media isn’t trying to reveal them.

As someone who wrote his entrance essay for library school on the dangers of asymmetric information, and who believes strongly that libraries — and governments — need to be investing more in people, these stories just pissed me off. And I decided to share.