Who may swim in the ocean of knowledge?

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/03/02/knowledge-decolonization.html


Elsevier is a predatory publisher. Not so much because it snipes individual authors, the way the journals and publishers on Beall’s list do, but because they are predating upon the right of the public to be educated, and upon the systemically-maintained economic precarity of academic researchers in an increasingly defunded public education system.

Do not publish with Elsevier. Do not edit for Elsevier. Do not review for Elsevier.

Fuck Elsevier.


Can you expand on what you’re discussing here? Your YouTube link is…a performance of percussive language? And your other points are non-understandable.

Wow… no idea how that link got there. Corrected now.

As to what I am discussing, if you practice, you will find your reading comprehension skills improve.

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That’s…that’s just word salad. I’ll try and break it down into components, and hopefully this will convince you that simply stringing together big words is not a good way to be understood.

but because they are predating upon the right of the public to be educated - Okay, so they’re occurring before the right of the public to be educated. Odd, but I guess you’re just being clear about timelines.

and upon the systemically-maintained economic precarity of academic researchers - The usage of ‘precarity’ appears to be a specific labor usage of the term to mean ‘economic precariousness or instability’. This isn’t really all that damning except for the lack of any context (which wasn’t there in my original reply).

in an increasingly defunded public education system. - Ah, these are words! I get these.

So in short you used a lot of big words (at least one incorrectly) but in doing so failed to make any sort of actual solvent point until your edits provided context. Being snippy when I point out that you basically slammed a thesaurus into the word editor and then linked the wrong youtube video doesn’t really do you any credit.

predate2 | prəˈdāt |

verb [with object]
(of an animal) act as a predator of; catch and eat (prey).

“Damning” is specific to one’s ethical standpoint. You might want to savvy to the political locus of the frequenters of this forum. Academic labor has, if you have (a) been looking, and (b) had a pulse over the past four decades indeed become more precarious. That would include, among other things, the humongous shift towards soft-money and adjunct appointments.

See! You can totally do this!

Look, I get that you are threatened by lexical sophistication, but if you are not up to the heat, stay the fuck out of the kitchen.

Try again… with practice comes literacy.

Being illiterate and driving trollies me does you no credit either. Kindly cease interacting with me in this forum.


So you could have clarified your original position when I asked, (which, by the way, I agree with and again, was because you forgot to link context in one part and linked the totally wrong thing in the second), but instead you chose to be a jerk about it. Hope that works out for you!

Ahem. So, anyway…

I think “access to knowledge” is exactly the right term to worry about here. It’s not really about the cost of accessing a given article, since in real life anyone can get illicit access to papers quite easily. It’s about the fact that if you go to a Western university, it’s clear what sources you should and shouldn’t build on, because (broadly) the right sources are in the prestigious journals carried by your fancy library, and the wrong sources are on dodgy anonymous websites. But if you get all your sources from dodgy websites, that distinction is invisible.

And the thing is, scientists aren’t just passive consumers of journals, they’re also the people who write the content. If Indian scientists are shut out of J. Am. Chem. Soc, then sooner or later they’re going to end up submitting papers to Wacky Wally’s Chemistry Newz instead, and eventually no one anywhere will know what sources to trust.


What the hell are you two arguing about?

Elsevier has about 1/3 of all medical research related publications locked up behind a paywall. Much of that work was done with public funding. If that isn’t the very definition of evil, I don’t know what is.


And now they own Rock Paper Shotgun :frowning:

(sorry for going off on a tangent)

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Boingboing is a model for keeping people free to use information. Yet the sleazy ads on boingboing remind me that nobody is really pure in this game of getting paid for producing information.

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It’s interesting to see how different disciplines handle this. In physics, preprints have been up on Arxiv for free for a while, but The American Chemical Association just sued sci-hub.


I don’t think that is a tangent at all. Monopolization is one of the facts that capitalist political economic systems must grapple with, and you are right to point this consolidation of academic press with popular press.

While Elsevier’s pricing policy is certainly reprehensible, I wonder how @carlmalamud thinks journals should be funded. While in many cases the public has paid for the research, they haven’t paid for its dissemination. Journals need a revenue stream.

I’m editor in chief of an open-access, no-page-charges journal, and it is quite a difficult thing to carry off. We sustain ourselves by the skin of our teeth, and some quite good journals using a similar model have failed, for example the excellent Journal of Computation and Mathematics recently had to suspend operations despite being under the umbrella of a large and venerable professional society.

Even if you believe that government funding means that the publication is owned by the public, the question arises as to which public. In the US it is increasingly the case that state legislatures question the value of support for their research universities, giving lip service to the “public good” argument but then suggesting that they can get by with the research done in the universities in other states. I imagine that the same argument might start to arise at the international level: why should the US pay for knowledge that is then freely available to our economic competitors? This is dangerous thinking, and anathema to science, but the existence of organizations like Sci-Hub practically force the question into the public discussion to a level where it demands an answer.


Revenue stream? Mine cryptocurrency while consumers of research are visiting open-access publications. This is an issue not just with academic publishing, but with publishing at the moment. :slight_smile:

I feel like the objects behind the shadows you are pointing at have to do with the structural realignment of public higher education (a) framed as a job training program for individuals, (b) not framing an educated populace as in and of itself a public good, © increasingly scarce funding of faculty (e.g., hard money appointments for both teaching and research), (d) pressures on faculty economic viability toward scholarship-corrupting processes (e.g., number of publications, but not quality of publications). Faculty researchers (and non-faculty researchers), (e) the structural fact that publication is more or less mandatory for researchers, but publication labor (reviewing, assistant editing, authoring) is generally not remunerated.

Funding issues for higher education are of course very complicated, but the question of why my state shouldn’t just piggyyback on, say, California’s research is a question that does get asked by legislators, especially as the quality of science research at my university is way out of proportion to the size of my state.

I assume your cryptocurrency suggestion was not serious. In any event, Elsevier won’t get any revenue from bitcoins being mined in Hyderabad,


You are on it about the complexity. I am not sure that I am not serious about cryptomining. If it is done up-front, does not monopolize my system, and obviates advertising, I would entertain this. I know, for example, of online serial content creators who are eliminating advertising in exchange for mining-based subscriptions.

Like all major public goods, public investment may require state or national-level leadership and the political will to simply make the contribution. Anywho… we are in a period of social change, and I think the production models will need to shift… obviously given your work at an open access journal, you see this as well. I am not a great prognosticator (who is? :slight_smile: ) but I suspect that in a few decades publication—academic and non-academic—will look dramatically different than it does today.

I look forward to dancing on the graves of Certain Dinosaurs should I be blessed to be around for such a future.

I was bemused by that one also. Perhaps he was attempting to go for ‘salient point’.

Of the two of you in this odd thread, you picked the wrong guy to call a jerk. Jerk.