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Canadian librarian leads worldwide digital revolt for free knowledge

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posted on Aug, 11 2010 @ 12:30 PM
reply to post by SPACEYstranger

When I hear the words "peer review", I reach for my revolver.

The climategate scandal has shown that "peer review", at least in one case, means that a cabal of those who have an interest in something keep anyone who might have a differing viewpoint from getting peer reviewed. If it can happen in one case, it can happen in any case. The climategate conspirators have blackened the concept of peer review forever. No one will ever be able to count on it anymore.

I do not wish to lead this thread into the arguments about global warming. Just pointing out that peer review has indeed been used to quell dissent. Whether or not global warming is real is thoroughly covered in other threads.

posted on Aug, 11 2010 @ 12:39 PM
Well thats just All Right...

Thanks OP for posting.

I am a student as well, and have a lot of reservations about the current education system in universities.

It is high time the system started to change from the inside.

This is great news, and I hope the momentum picks up for these pioneers!


posted on Aug, 11 2010 @ 01:07 PM
This librarian is a hero. Putting a price tag on knowledge is like putting a price tag on free speech. Making libraries like this free does not remove the advantage of going to these universities... it's ALWAYS better to have a Professor who can teach you personally and answer your questions. But all knowledge should be available to everyone, with the possible exception of government/military intelligence, and even that is a debate of its own.

Long live the free internet and the free exchange of information!

posted on Aug, 11 2010 @ 02:10 PM
Cool idea. There's a similar push to open up the knowledge stores amongst quite a few universities, the most well known example being MIT's OpenCourseWare and the iTunesU project with lectures for download.

And I really understand the response; scientific journals are really tightening their reigns on their journal publications and raising costs. A lot of scientists were cracked down on because they were sharing copies of articles by pdf with friends and fellow researchers.

Anyway... I think it is very interesting to see a university specifcally request their scientists to NOT publish. When research earns you accolades, to use it as a form of protest is a very brave stance!

posted on Aug, 11 2010 @ 02:27 PM
I agree with most, "brilliant" was the first word that came to mind. He's absolutely right. Hopefully enough people acknowledge and understand what he's saying before the atrocities go any further. The internet certainly assisted in ushering in a new era of distribution of information, and now they're even attempting to put chains on that. Where does it end? When there is no knowledge available outside of falsely created propaganda which targets society at large? Then convinces them that the only way to remain 'safe' or 'informed' is to be confined within a corporate prison? Seriously, I think the people are starting to wake up and smell the bullsh*t. People have the power and right to turn it all around. I believe the fork in the road is drawing very near.

posted on Aug, 11 2010 @ 04:13 PM

Originally posted by NoHomers
I have always thought knowledge should be free. I can't figure out why we (in the U.S.) don't take some of the billions of tax dollars we spend every year and create a free website for education. I think it would be a worthwhile investment to create a free K-12 online curriculum and then add college courses as they can be created. Why wouldn't we, as the general public, want everybody to be as educated as possible? I realize some higher-learning institutions may lose money ultimately if such a site were constructed, but we didn't prevent the introduction of the automobile in order to keep stage coach companies in business.
MIT's OpenCourseware is causing big waves doing that right now. Anyone can log in and participate in classes.

posted on Aug, 11 2010 @ 09:20 PM
I agree, the fees that many universities charges is ridiculous. Knowledge should be available for free to every one. All universities should start open sourcing their knowledge databases in the name of the betterment of our civilization. Just like we, today, have an open source freeware operating system for computers called "Linux" and its variants (Ubuntu, Fedora, etc) it would be very good if we had an open source knowledge platform, preferably in the form of software that any one can freely download and install on their computers, then select which 'major' they wish to learn and which term they wish to endure (associate degree, Masters, Bachelor's, etc) then have the sessions begin with good text to speech engines and excellent artificial intelligence processors ready to answer all of your questions, all for free, for every one, including the poorest of the poor living in the worst remote location on earth on their $100 laptop project (now $35?) to take advantage and learn from such open source college platforms/software.

In fact, such a thing is possible, since technically it isn't illegal for you to share your knowledge with another person. Any programmer out there, with the collaboration of college graduates of many fields can make such a thing a possibility -- A freeware open source college platform.

But for now, all we got is things like Youtube and other sources which those "How To's" videos that many people have posted, that is as close as we have got in making knowledge free. In Youtube now these days, you can find 'how to's' videos for lots of things.

posted on Aug, 11 2010 @ 09:28 PM
reply to post by FNetV1

Although the principle of free knowledge is commendable isn't it ethical to allow the creator of original works and research be the person making the choice on whether their work is freely released (ie. like the Creative Commons License) or in a book that would hopefully fund the person for their time? Isn't that fair?

Charging a price for digital media is expected because it costs money to employ someone to scan and post the media, maintain the storage systems and software, pay for the bandwidth used, and other overhead costs.

The great thing is that people such as these groups of university librarians may be able to come together and provide such an infrastructure from the volunteering of time and the universities volunteering the resources. These would be selfless acts.

posted on Aug, 11 2010 @ 11:44 PM

Originally posted by Zaxxon
reply to post by FNetV1

isn't it ethical to allow the creator of original works and research be the person making the choice on whether their work is freely released

Yes it is but most of these 'learned papers' end up on the databases of journals, and originals were Doctoral thesis papers or paid for by the employers. Why do you have to pay $35 or up to twice that to get a copy of a document? I have even seen some at $150 costs money to employ someone to scan and post the media, maintain the storage systems and software, pay for the bandwidth used....

Yes but there is such a thing as being reasonable. Most of the darned journals are totally unreasonable. $5 yes, $50 NO. It infuriates me, with no work at present, to find that I am expected to pay for someone's thesis. Even i I had a job I could not afford those sort of prices. In addition to which the abstracts do not necessarily tell you whether the article is going to be of use. Do I charge for my earthquake software? No.

...provide such an infrastructure from the volunteering of time and the universities volunteering the resources....

Hear Hear. I MOST sincerely hope so.

posted on Aug, 12 2010 @ 06:37 AM
Good man!

The world needs more like him!

The sad reality that nowadays everything is a business in the pursuit of profit, fueled by greed, to enrich the privileged few at the expense and detriment of the masses!

posted on Aug, 12 2010 @ 09:23 AM

Originally posted by David_Reale
This is incredible! Awesome! I cannot star this enough! I sincerely hope all libraries start to follow this pattern! It would mean the beginning of the world that all (most) pirates dream of, where information truly, and without execptions, is free! And that, of course, would mean the beginning of the end for the Powers That Be!

I applaud their efforts from the bottom of my heart!

[edit on 11-8-2010 by David_Reale]

Yes! And we make teachers work for free. No money for those extortionists. Anyone caught hoarding knowledge/information, whether by way of copyrights, patents, for profit bookstores, or any other way, would be executed on the spot without trial. I mean, just because I spent 26 years in school earning that knowledge doesn't mean I should not have to give it away to those too lazy to earn it. Yes! Knowledge from each according to his ability. Knowledge from each according to his need. Wait! Wait! That sounds like someone else's mantra. It would mean a total redistribution of information. Now, that's change you can believe in.

posted on Aug, 12 2010 @ 11:13 AM
reply to post by PuterMan
I know what you mean. The fees are outrageous. I am lucky because my employer pays for all of my tuition and fees, but I remember before that I was using my GI Bill and had FAFSA loans to cover everything. $200 for a book here, $100 for a book that we never used, but luckily I never sourced from journals, however classes were approaching where I couldn't get away with that for much longer.

The worst part is that many of the articles are just printed public domain documents. Maybe someone will make a specialized free archive where people can upload their papers to a searchable database online and provide the access to read them for free.

I'd like to do that but I wouldn't be surprised if "someone" started uploading works that would specifically get me sued by authors for copyright infringement.

posted on Aug, 12 2010 @ 11:16 AM
What a great librarian! I hope more universities see this and follow suit in attempting to make access to knowledge bases free. Universities are getting greedy and becoming too exclusive to the rich.

posted on Aug, 12 2010 @ 09:47 PM
reply to post by GhostLancer

You've never used an academic database, have you? In case you didn't know, it's not like these databases are full of secret knowledge that only people with degrees can learn about. First and foremost, most of them are concerned with things like liberal arts, law, politics, etc., not bomb-making or aeronautics or whatever field you're imagining could be used by, as you say, "people with questionable motives". Second, even if there was information that could potentially be used with malicious intent in those databases, most of it would be beyond the comprehension of your average "bad guy". To put it a different way, anyone able to parse the information provided in a way which would allow them to do bad things would already be smart enough that they're probably just brushing up.

I have to raise another point here, though. Your outlook on the free flow of information is incredibly depressing. I'm a die-hard democratic socialist, I'm the guy you're afraid of because I want to "redistribute the wealth" and "tax the rich," but I'm also a social libertarian, and I think Ben Franklin said it best when he said, "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." I would rather allow Klansmen to preach hate at cross burnings and allow terrorists to read about bomb making than have such discourse and information prohibited because it "risks safety". Even if such topics are inflammatory and dangerous in the wrong settings and in the wrong hands, I would rather everyone be free to speak their mind about any subject they choose than invite the destruction of free thought in order to purchase a false sense of security. Never forget that prohibiting the free flow of information won't stop those who are determined to find out from eventually finding what they seek.

[edit on 12-8-2010 by pr3l33t]

posted on Aug, 14 2010 @ 03:28 AM
Nice find Kommunist!

Being a university student myself... I have been a victim to INSANE tuition fees. My tuition fees at the University of Alberta are already at their maximum legal limit, and this year we get a 500$ "Student Fee" charge slapped on for stuff like "Library Fees".

The kind of stuff you can find on university databases is incredible- some of the work from the best modern minds... and its usually stuff you can't find anywhere else on the internet for free. Reading the articles and the journals really did help radically expand my knowledge and understanding of the subjects I was studying!

I think not only should students not have to pay for this, but regular people too as the librarian states!

posted on Aug, 15 2010 @ 09:53 AM

Originally posted by ImaginaryReality1984
I've always thought that students should be given special access to resources that often cost a lot.

They typically are. As much as I hate the amount of money that peer-reviewed journals charge for subscription fees, they normally have rates that are significantly lower for academic institutions. I had the benefit of going to grad school while working full time and got to compare the cost of article copies I received through school vs. through work while working on my MS. My university was charged about one tenth the price as my company for articles from the same journal. That being said, I fully support the concept of free information for all.

there are numerous ways to do this but i think for one when it comes to software universities should buy one copy and be allowed t distribute it to all students for the duration of their courses.

Similar to what I said above, most universities have a standardized software package that's available to all students for free. When I was doing my undergrad, the latest student version of MS Office was available to any student on or off campus. In fact, you could actually purchase the physical install discs for something ridiculous like $10. We actually went through what our starting package included and totalled up the retail prices for full versions of the software and it was on the order of $2000-3000. Plus, with the open source revolution, there are free analogues of many popular pieces of software available - Open Office for MS Office, for example.

posted on Aug, 15 2010 @ 04:59 PM
I have to reply again because, although I do support Mr. Leggott's idea, I feel that he's going to have a lot of difficulty with this plan.

For one thing, the article consists entirely of complaints levied against the current system, without any kind of proposal for an alternative. I do think that the fees charged by these databases is exorbitant, but that doesn't mean they don't cost money to maintain. I'm just very skeptical about the article's emphasis on criticism versus praxis.

Here are the primary issues I see with Leggott's endeavour:

  • First and foremost, what Mr. Leggott proposes mandates the creation of an entirely new database service, one which will require new infrastructure and staffing to support it. He will need, among other things:
  • Servers; lots of them.
  • Technicians and administrators to set up, maintain, and manage the servers.
  • Development personnel to build the database system and the website used to access it
  • Second, I'm somewhat dubious about how he plans to go about collecting the data that he will need to make his service worth using. Services like Cuil (and my many, many failed web forums and blogs) prove that you need to do more than simply exist to stay popular. Much of the content that he wants to give to the world is protected under copyright (not that I'm any defender of copyright - not by a long stretch - but the point remains) and I doubt a judge would buy the wholesale pilfering of copyrighted articles constitutes fair use. Even if he does manage to get a reasonable number of authors to start submitting their works to him, much of the world's information which is held in the databases he wants to fight is still not going to be available on his database.
  • I also don't think that he wants to turn his service into yet another Wikipedia/Knol/message board/Internet, where anyone and everyone can submit articles, so he'll also need to establish infrastructure for peer review and organization.
  • More important, many readers still appreciate and prefer the journal format and I doubt he's going to be able to afford either the direct costs of licensing journal material or the cost of printing and shipping journals himself, without become what he opposes.

The biggest problem here, one which the article fails to address, is the way in which copyright has come to be oppressive to our culture. Instead of promoting creativity, as it was originally intended, it is now merely a tool used to restrict the free flow of information for the sake of capital. At the end of the day, all of the problems that Leggott brings up cannot be addressed without a fundamental re-working of copyright that finally brings its principles into agreement with the modern age. I think creators should be credited and rewarded for their work, but I do not think that copyright as it exists in this day and age can really ever be in agreement with democratic ideals. Instead, copyright law needs to be nullified and re-written to reduce the (currently outrageous) term lengths; greatly expand fair use to allow sampling of audio and visual works, limited redistribution of copyrighted material verbatim, and to allow use of materials for educational purposes and for the purposes of giving the poor access to restricted elements of culture; as well as to prohibit companies from holding copyrights.

posted on Aug, 17 2010 @ 03:59 PM
The school I go to allows access to a whole slew of information for free lexus nexus CQ etc etc etc even to the public our library will give a guest pass with a temp user name and password that will allow them to have access to all databases and information as a student paying for school. It is actually pretty impressive the size and vastness of all the information you can get on there.

posted on Aug, 20 2010 @ 09:17 AM

Originally posted by NoHomers
I think it would be a worthwhile investment to create a free K-12 online curriculum and then add college courses as they can be created. Why wouldn't we, as the general public, want everybody to be as educated as possible? I realize some higher-learning institutions may lose money

I'm sure you've heard of It looks like they're working on it.

But it seems you've also answered the question to why they're not being heavily adopted yet. The textbook industry seems to be doing what they can to slow down approval of free materials by lobbying education boards and school advisers, and doing things like channeling funds to the teachers unions.

And for science journals and published papers, isn't there But they don't always seem to have the best reputation at some institutions doing peer review. (Whether or not that bias is considered fair or not is another question though.)

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