Re: Call for Commentary:

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Fri, 7 Dec 2001 15:15:27 +0000

Bonjour Herve!

> I feel you've misinterpreted my proposition on the text-e forum.
> I do feel you're right to say that self-archiving is something good to
> do NOW.
> My problem is that monopolistic publishers ALREADY have science under
> their control. So we have two ways of fighting for freedom of science:
> - one is self archiving (the civil society of science action)
> - another one is to impede monopolistic publishers' hold on science.
> This battlefield needs to convince and to get public bodies (from the
> local/university level to the international level) on our side.

The two strategies are complementary. But self-archiving can be done by
one and all, immediately, waiting for no one, lobbying no one,
convincing no one (other than oneself and one's own institutional
fellow-researchers). It will be a pretty puzzle for future historians
to explain why were so sluggish about getting down to it.

The rest is a more conditional agenda, requiring the convincing of
other entities (about which I am rather pessimistic, especially as regards
timing, given how long it is taking us even to convince OURSELVES, with
self-archiving, which depends on no one else!).

> You say :
> > Prions que la privatisation de la science ne touchera pas a son
> > reportage dans les revues expertisee. Et pendant que la pratique
> > du reportage continue, liberons les rapports en-ligne. Amen.
> > -- Stevan Harnad, jeudi 29 novembre 19:45 (heure de Paris)
> I fear that the way monopolistic publishers assign copyright (and
> develop new tools on behalf of this catalog property) shows that this
> privatisation of science reporting is already under way.

It does not touch on our capacity to subvert the whole system by
self-archiving right now. It is (as I said) at best, a complementary
path we might in addition take, at worst, a red herring, giving us
still more irrelevant distrations to preoccupy us, paralytically,
while you continue to delay doing what is already fully doable:

> And as I alway says : self-archiving gives scientists tools, objectives
> and ethical solutions to act NOW. But we need more, and this will also
> help the involved parties to choose. Consider that the french CNRS, only
> a few years ago, said to its members never to put pre-prints on-line....
> There's a long way to go and we need to clearly expose the complete
> problem to convince.

There is no cure for stupidity except to IGNORE it. For a rational,
informed researcher, there is no obstacle whatsoever to immediate
self-archiving of his preprints and subsequent postprints -- none. If
his scientific society issues idiotic (but of course non-legal)
recommendations, the rational researcher can and will of course ignore
them, as physicists planet-wide have been doing for over 10 years.

No Herve, your worries are symptoms of the uniquitous and mysterious
Zeno's Paralysis that continues to beset most of us; it is not a true
further obstacle that we must first surmount. Nor is it clear whom we
would want to convince of what, how, and to what effect. Your worries
about "monopolism" are fueled mainly by understandable librarians'
budgetary worries, and irritation. I accordingly suggest you re-channel
the irritation in a more productive direction than lobbying against
"monopolistic" publishers: Redirect the efforts instead in the
direction of the immediately feasible. Set up Eprint Archives at Caen
(as you indicate you are doing, below!) and then campaign with your own
administration and your own researchers, that they should take matters
into their own hands, and free (their portion of) this literature right
now, by filling the Caen Eprint archives promptly and continuously from
now on!

> I think that we don't only need answers to Henderson's views, but also
> to give propositions to other persons who are wondering. For example
> those in France who give the societies, journal to Elsevier ten years
> ago...

And I think subversive self-archiving will free those same articles,
and eventually remedy the rest. No one else needs "convincing" but the
researchers and their own institutions, in their own interests.

> And my only aim is to ADD other way to your self-archiving solution.
> But I agree with your solution (and more, I will give one of my student
> the projet of installing your self-archiving
> software at my university).
> Hervé Le Crosnier <>

Bravo! I have no fear at all that -- if the archives are actually
filled, not if they are installed and then left empty -- you will
confirm not long after that the objectives you had were indirectly
realized by this seemingly local step!



PS May I have permission to post your comment and my response in
the Amsci Forum?

> Good afternoon Stevan,
> You can do anything you want with the texts I freely
> wrote into the sky as giveaway research :-)))))
> But the problem is in your sentence : "if the archives are
> actually filled". With an "if" condition everything
> is possible, and from what I know about institutions
> (and not only logic-minded scientists), we need to
> convince them with other tools than self-conscious actions.
> But one only has one life, and to be sure
> one is acting right with one's thinking, one must
> do it for oneself. So eprints and other forms of self-archiving
> give us tools (not only technical, but ethical, legal and
> the "political" ones).
> We need two sides to build a scissor, and cut down privatization
> of science and knowledge.
Received on Fri Dec 07 2001 - 15:20:40 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Dec 10 2010 - 19:46:19 GMT