Danah Boyd is depressed and angry, because she has written a marvellous essay on Facebook privacy, but it is locked down between a paywall, by her own publisher Sage.
“I’m deeply depressed because I know that most of you will never read it. It is not because you aren’t interested (although many of you might not be), but because Sage is one of those archaic academic publishers who had decided to lock down its authors and their content behind heavy iron walls. Even if you read an early draft of my article in essay form, you’ll probably never get to read the cleaned up version. Nor will you get to see the cool articles on alternate reality gaming, crowd-sourcing, convergent mobile media, and video game modding that are also in this issue. That’s super depressing. I agreed to publish my piece at Sage for complicated reasons, but…
I vow that this is the last article that I will publish to which the public cannot get access. I am boycotting locked-down journals and I’d like to ask other academics to do the same.”
I’m also angry, but at Routledge, and for a very similar reason. Not for myself, but for my friend Johan Soderbergh. Johan was so kind to have me sent a review copy of his truly marvelous book about the free software movement, called Hacking Capitalism. I have read the intro and first chapter, and so far, I’m enthralled by this deeply insightful book, that is also well written.
But here is the problem. That book costs well over $100 …!!.
Who else will be able to read it, how many libraries will invest in such a book, let alone individuals?? To increase the infamy, Johan could not even get his own edited manuscript back, talk about abuse of power.
This is a truly shameful attitude by a scientific publisher, who is locking excellent scholarship away, betraying the very ideal of scientific publishing.
I’m thinking of writing a more formal open letter about this, and polled the p2p research mailing list about it, I’m waiting for reactions. You might hear more about it.
Why did Johan accept this? Though he is an activist, he must also build a career, and Routledge is a reputable scientific publisher. So the opportunity was there, and a young and budding author is very weak compared to a corporate juggernaut. But what a price to pay, to see your own work made inaccessible to the very people you would want to reach.