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December 17, 2009
What Does That Make Us?
Big damned heroes, sir! (*)
This is old news but I just heard about it. MIT's faculty voted unanimously to put all their research papers online. That may not seem like a big deal outside of academia but let me assure you it's a huge deal inside the ivory towers. Professors can opt out if they want to - or more likely if they're forced to by publishers who want to profit off the publication and confuse dissemination with useful publication.
To my knowledge this is the first time an entire institution of higher education anywhere in the world has adopted this kind of policy and the fact that the vote was unanimous shows just how far the commercial constructions around scientific literature have drifted from the ideals of research, publication, and academic discourse that the researchers themselves hold to.
There are some times when I am really proud of my alma mater and this is one of them. Big damned heroes indeed.
(*) Firefly reference, for those wondering what the heck I'm on about.
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