Archive for January, 2012

Boycott Elsevier!

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

If you’re in academia and haven’t done so yet, please take a moment to sign this online petition organized by Tyler Neylon, and pledge that you won’t publish, referee, or do editorial work for any Elsevier journals.  I’ve been boycotting Elsevier (and most other commercial journal publishers—Elsevier is merely the worst) since 2004, when I first learned about their rapacious pricing policies.  I couldn’t possibly be happier with my choice: unlike most idealistic principles, this one gets you out of onerous work rather than committing you to it!  Sure, Elsevier is huge and we’re tiny, but the fight against them is finally gathering steam (possibly because of Elsevier’s support for the “Research Works Act”), years after the case against them became inarguable.  Since their entire business model depends on our donating free labor to them, all it will take to bring them down is for enough of us to decide we’re through being had.  We can actually win this one … Yes We Can.

For more information, see this wonderful recent post by Fields medalist and Shtetl-Optimized commenter Timothy Gowers, entitled “Elsevier — my part in its downfall.”  (Added: also check out this great post by Aram Harrow.)  You might also enjoy a parody piece I wrote years ago, trying to imagine how Elsevier’s “squeeze those dupes for all they’ve got” business model would work in any other industry.

Updates from Kenya

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Yes, I’m blogging from outside Nairobi, where I’ve come to investigate the true circumstances of President Obama’s birth.  Seriously, Dana and I are here to go on a safari for our belated honeymoon—for both of us, it’s our first non-work-related trip in many years.  Needless to say, we both brought our laptops.

Like everyone else with an ounce of sense, I’m absolutely horrified by SOPA, and inspired by the way so many Internet companies and organizations have banded together to try to prevent the United States from moving in the direction of China and Iran.

Meanwhile, on the theme of open access to information on the web, check out a New York Times article by Thomas Lin about the open science movement.  I’m quoted briefly toward the end.

Sorry for the light (nonexistent) blogging lately.  I’ll be back after I’m done with the lions and hippos and so forth.