Tag Archives: MIT

Timothy Burke on Academia’s role in Aaron Swartz’s death

Why does this still happen::

I’ve been frustrated for years, like other scholars and faculty members who take an interest in these issues, at the remarkable lassitude of academia as a whole toward publication, intellectual property and digitization. Faculty who tell me passionately about their commitment to social justice either are indifferent to these concerns or are sometimes supportive of the old order. They defend the ghastly proposition that universities (and governments) should continue to subsidize the production of scholarship that is then donated to for-profit publishers who then charge high prices to loan that work back to the institutions that subsidized its creation, and the corollary, demanded by those publishers, that the circulation of such work should be limited to those who pay those prices.

I cannot understand why academics and universities are OK with this. If the work academics do is for the betterment of mankind, why is it holed away, to be read by almost no one?

Gaming the library (and going beyond just books and knowledge)

The Harvard Library Innovation Laboratory points out a fascinating part of Jerome Lettvin’s obitiary:

At MIT, his office in Building 20 was crammed with books, most overdue from the college library. Dr. Lettvin claimed he did not return them because the library would send him the students who wanted those books, and he would interview them as potential assistants.”

Jerome was gaming the library. He was holding onto resources that like-minded individuals desired in order to make professional connections. Cool.

Maybe the greatest part of libraries isn’t what’s in them, but the people that go to them.