Subject: Re: Free software and free music have some similar problems.
From: "Karsten M. Self" <>
Date: Fri, 23 Jul 1999 14:23:04 -0700

Bernard Lang wrote:
> From: Rich Morin <>
> --------
> BTW (Off-off-topic alert), the academic publishing industry is also ripe
> for a shake-up, IMHO.  We currently have a situation in which academics
> (and even libraries) can't afford to buy the current literature.  In the
> meanwhile, few academics make anything from their writing efforts.  I'm
> hopeful that peer-reviewed electronic publishing will eventually help
> to resolve some of this problem.
> --------
>   academic publishing industry is quite a different topic from music.
> Several differences:
>   - music is for pleasure, you do not need to listen to it
>    whereas academic litterature is a resource for producing more good
>     (though you may still enjoy it)
>    Research results are more like software, i.e. production rather
>     than consumption ware.

However, both musicians and academics can benefit from
noteriety|reputation effects.  If both music and research are considered
to have "performance" aspects (musicians accept performance contracts,
researchers accept research contracts), then freely available samples of
prior work become in essense advertising and proof of quality of prior
work.  This is a variation of the John Perry Barlow "Wine without
bottles" argument.  It has its limits.
>   - researchers and academics do almost all the work, much more than in
>     the entertainment business. With the web, publishers are hardly
>     needed. The few useful tasks could be bought directly from
>     specialists (like copy editing).

There have been some studies of this field and relatively recent
discussions at the CNI-Copyright list.  Peer-reviewed journals _do_
offer the service of peer review, though in a webified world, this can
be accomplished to some extent by ratings sites substituting for
journals.  Another significant attribute of hardcopy publication is
archival.  Paper is still a reasonably good, stable, accessible, and
convertable medium.  A printing date tends to fix publications in time
in a way which doesn't necessarily happen on the web.

It turns out that for the relatively low press runs of most journals,
the overhead of editing and adminstrative services provided by journals
is a substantial cost of business.  Merely moving existing journals from
print to web would not result in much cost savings.  Direct publication
on the part of authors is, of course, another matter.

See this article for more information
(  Varian is
pretty savvy about publication and the web.

>   so there is every reason to bypass the publishers, except for
> one social factor. To advance in his career, the academic must publish
> in good journals, and those titles are for the moment owned by
> the publishers. Publishing in them reinforces their academic importance
> at the expense of the academic community.
>    It will take some time before new, free, electronic titles
> are strong enough to take the place of existing ones.

There are a number of websites devoted to the publication of academic
papers, particularly working papers.  I'd expect this trend to grow.
Karsten M. Self (
    What part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?

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