"I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—; I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."
The world can be a murky place but sometimes you get two examples side-by-side and their contrast makes a set of differences crystal clear. A post on Danah Boyd's blog Zephoria, pointed out the fact that the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning from MIT Press was now up an online.
Part of that series is a book entitled "The Ecology of Games: Connecting Youth, Games, and Learning" edited by the wonderful Katie Salen. The is an edited work and the essays are all by well-known, highly respected authors/researchers/designers. You can order the paper back for $16US or the hard back for $32US....or...(wait for it)...you can download the whole thing for FREE!!
Later I was perusing my feeds and I noticed that the journal of Dialectical Anthropology had two recent articles in it that I thought would be worth checking out: Creative Social Research: Rethinking Theories and Methods and the Calling of an Ontological Epistemology of Participation and Virtual Speakers, Virtual Audiences: Agency, Audience and Constraint in an Online Chat Community. The punchline that you may have already guessed? Yeah...access to the articles costs...$30US for EACH!! Let me see....a whole book for free or two articles for $60US? Hmmm.....that's tough. Remember that old bit about "If a tree falls and no one is there, does it make a sound?" How about "If you write an article and only the people who review it for publication read it, does it make any difference?"
Honestly, we know that the recording industry and the movie industry (as they specifically relate to the digital world) are evil, close-minded dinosaurs that are stuck in Donner Pass mentality of attempting to eat their own customers as they quickly twirl into irrelevance but come on....shouldn't we expect a bit more from academia?
Back in 1999, Robert Darnton, professor emeritus of history at Princeton and past president of the American Historical Association, wrote a piece for the New York Review of Books entitled "The New Age of the Book." Darnton is also a proponent of e-publishing especially as it relates to acedmia; in that article he asserted that "the best case to be made for e-books concerns scholarly publishing, not in all fields, but in large stretches of the humanities and social sciences where conventional monographs—that is, learned treatises on particular subjects—have become prohibitively expensive to produce. The difficulty is so severe, in fact, that it is transforming the academic landscape." That transformation is not in a positive either in case you were wondering.
Darnton goes on to say;
"Commercial publishers have raised the price of periodicals, especially in the natural sciences, to such a height that they have created havoc in the budgets of research libraries. In order to maintain their collections of periodicals, libraries have cut back drastically in the purchases of monographs. Faced with the decline in orders from libraries, university presses have virtually ceased publishing in the fields for which there is the least demand. And scholars in those fields no longer have an adequate outlet for their research. The crisis concerns the workings of the marketplace, not the value of the scholarship; and it is greatest among those with the greatest need to overcome it—the next generation of academics whose careers depend upon their ability to break into print."
So in an age when we have the Public Library of Science Journals and the Directory of Open Access Journals, and when we have academic journals working with publishers who are pricing their product out of the reach of almost everyone and not to mention the Creative Commons; why then do academics still work with these dinosaur publishers and limit the accessibility of their work to all but a handful? Wake up people! You own the content. Publishing has never been easier. You can still maintain all the rigor of peer-review but take back the content from these people who seek nothing but to profit from your own work.
Take the other path....please