Re: Reasons for freeing the primary research literature

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Sat, 18 Aug 2001 21:22:00 +0100

On Fri, 17 Aug 2001, Jean-Claude [iso-8859-1] Guédon wrote:

> I would add an extension to the public property argument: a bit like
> roads, fundamental public knowledge ought to be considered as a basic
> infrastructure for all kinds of other activities, including further
> public, fundamental research as well as private, business oriented
> research.

I hate to disagree with my comrade-at-arms, Jean-Claude Giedon, but
surely the ultimate arbiter of whether I have done something that is
"public property" is me (and possibly the one who funded my work).
Apart from that, the fact that the (say) book I wrote contains
"knowledge," even "fundamental public knowledge," does not entail that I
must give it away, does it, if I do not wish to? For if that were so,
is there not the risk that I may not wish to have bothered to write it
in the first place?

In other words, it is again not the dichotomy
"knowledge/non-knowledge", nor "fundamental/non-fundamental" nor
"infrastructural"/"suprastructural" nor even "public"/"nonpublic" that
is relevant, let alone decisive. It is merely whether the "product" in
question (and it need not even be digital!) is or is not intended to be
given away for free by its producer (and/or the funder of the work of
its producer).

> ... Albert Henderson... [posts] a fixed bank of statements... many of
> them quite outrageous in their claims, and some actually funny,...
> found all over the networks... the same repetitious claims recur
> regularly over this list.

My temptation to agree is tempered by my sure knowledge that one could
have substituted my own name for Albert's in the above statement, with
equal truth (and likely to elicit at least as many echo-endorsements from
Received on Wed Jan 03 2001 - 19:17:43 GMT

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