On Was Aaron Swartz Stealing?

There is an important dimension to the 'guarded knowledge economy' story that is entirely overlooked in the commentary and response to this article. This is the nearly universal failure of university managers to inform themselves of this (and other) cost drivers in the organisations they direct and control.

By capping the total library spend to a fixed percentage of the overall budget, these managers assume they are controlling costs rather than eviscerating the knowledge commons available to their undergraduates who they routinely charge more and more each year for less and less.
This budgetary behaviour is further evidence of mismanagement, of a serious failure to understand the difference between purchasing computers and sustaining the seed bank of knowledge production they are charged with managing. It is noteworthy that In the many dozens of published academic articles on this subject, I know of none which report initiatives by managers . Indeed the most valuable empirical research on the subject has been produced by librarias who have been the assiduous in trying to draw attention to the problem.

IWe need to ask hard questions about the competence of university controllers and yet there is little evidence that any section of the media is willing to do so. Why have tenured professors chosen to ignore the transformation of academic publishing, just as they have ignored casualization of the academic labour force.

It is commendable that the true guardians of knowledge production, our librarians and open-access researchers have taken the initiative to find solutions. What is disgraceful is the lack of detailed attention to how this and other knowledge resources are being managed and the weight it may have in the overall fees that undergraduates now pay.

Retired Senior Lecturer

Posted on September 6, 2011 at 4:51 am 0