Archive:Presentations/OA week at Univ of Redlands

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Introduction (3 min)

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  • Who am I?
  • Two questions to consider tonight:
    • What do we mean by "free culture"?
    • Why does Open Access academic publishing matter to students?

Free Culture 101

Students for Free Culture was founded by two Swarthmore students after they sued voting-machine manufacturer Diebold for abusing copyright law in 2003.

Today, we are focused on issues of freedom and access to information for students, faculty, and staff at high schools, colleges, and universities.

Critical history of the term "free culture"

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  • Frequently understood in terms of tech, law
  • Where is the "culture" in "free culture"?
  • Can we trace the development of this term?

Oral culture

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  • Storytelling
    • From Greek epics to peasant folktales
    • Teaching, learning, determining norms
    • Passing critical info, news
    • Adaptive, responsive to audience, circumstances

Print culture

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  • Folktales and epic poems widely reproduced on paper
  • What effect might this have on the adaptive nature of oral cultures? Will it be destroyed?

Folk culture

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  • Robert Darnton and others find that the flexibility, adaptibility of oral cultures persists even when print media is introduced
    • Darnton, The Great Cat Massacre and Other Episodes in French Cultural History (1984)
  • The printed story is just one more version in circulation
  • In fact, it becomes a useful tool because the storyteller can implicitly deviate from and rely upon the audience's knowledge of the dominant narrative with a wink and a nod

Copyright, 1790

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"Jefferson wrote that, "the moment [an idea] is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of everyone" (Boyle, 2008, 20).

  • Copyright law was an incentive for creative people to do creative things
    • Nation-building
    • Destruction of, disrespect for native American culture(s)
    • Gap - absence of a uniquely "American" culture comparable with Europe
  • Initially conceived and written within the social and technological paradigm of the printing press
  • Promote useful arts + sciences
  • Provide for a limited monopoly
  • Could only be renewed if the author was still living
  • But always with the understanding that this material would rise up to the public domain after a period of time
  • Requires registration and only 5% are registered during the first year (Lessig)

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Mass culture

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  • New media (cinema, radio, television) accompany print newspapers to create what some scholars begin to call "mass culture"
  • Many people reading, watching, hearing, discussing artifacts of a small number of producers
  • Fear that this will erase local difference, create a monoculture
  • Lots of Communication research attempting to understand how the messages of mass media circulate through their audiences
    • Turns out to be quite complicated and unreliable
  • People hear things from friends, listen skeptically, read "against the grain"
  • Stuart Hall, cultural studies scholar, presents an alternative view to a conference for communication scholars: "encoding/decoding"

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Pop culture

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  • "Pop" or "top 40" is a specific format on AM radio, it's a genre without specific aesthetic conventions (unlike, say, swing, bebop, or soul).
  • Significant monies to be made from the pop industries and their teenage customers
  • Pop is "appointment"-oriented
    • To see the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, one must organize one's life around being in front of the TV at a certain time
    • This kind of obedience to mass media is frightening to postwar scholars concerned about the threat of fascism
1976, an important year for U.S. pop culture and copyright

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  • Copyright Act of 1976 inspired/justified by popularity of new technologies, international compatibility
    • Term of copyright is extended to life + 50
    • Fair use introduced
    • Scope of protection expanded from "published" to "fixed" works, no registration required:

original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.

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  • Watershed year in personal computing:
    • First widely available personal computer is sold: Altair 8088
    • Bill Gates publishes his "Open Letter to Hobbyists", a document that outlines the argument for the commercialization of software as a pop product - not obvious!
    • Jobs and Woz debut Apple I at the Homebrew Computer Club
  • Insurgent strains of niche pop start appearing in what was formerly known as the 'mainstream':
    • Larry Levan, Frankie Knuckles, etc. DJing in NYC
    • Ramones LP is released
    • Grandmaster Flash forms the Furious Five
    • Dub reggae is exported from Jamaica

Popular culture

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  • How are "pop" and "popular" different cultures?
  • Critique from the postwar period still in action: pop culture is a "distraction" from what really matters
  • John Fiske's observations suggest that there is more going on than "distraction"
    • His synthesis of multiple case studies describes how pop industries provide raw materials that people use to create and express their popular culture
    • In some cases, viewers are highly selective in their reception of "mass" media, picking what is relevant, discarding the rest
  • Cycle:
    • Pop industries produce commodities
    • Consumers select from among them
    • Some subset of these are excorporated and used in the expression of popular culture
    • Industries observe these practices and incorporate them
    • New commodities are produced

of incorporation by industry and excorporation by the populace

  • If a pop artifact is not relevant -- meaning if it is not expressively useful -- then it will not be accepted

Popular culture is found in "that ill-defined cultural space [which exists in] constant circulation among texts and society." (Fiske 6)

  • Challenges the assumptions buried in terms like "guilty pleasures" and "sleeper hits"

Participatory culture

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  • From the 70s to the 90s, the instability of "mass" in "mass" culture starts to disintegrate very visibly
    • Cable TV, nascent online services like BBSes, microcomputers in schools + homes, consumer video/audio gear, fanzines
  • Jenkins takes Fiskes observerations about popular culture and explores fan communities that make things
    • Fan fiction, fan vidding
    • People engaging materially with pop industry artifacts

Aside about free software

  • Free software provides a great example of interactions among industries, academics, hobbyists, popular culture, internetworked computing, law

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  • Although the FSF started its work in the 1980s based on the experience of RMS in the MIT AI lab of the 1970s, two factors kick it into high gear in the 1990s:
    • Home computers powerful enough to run UNIX-like operating system
    • Popular access to the internet
  • Linus Torvalds brings GNU to the home computer with the Linux kernel
  • Free software provides a platform for the rapid deployment of new internet services:
    • LAMP, Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP/Python/Perl - dotcom platform
    • Most people are using free software everyday when they access web services
  • What is the GPL? What is copyleft?

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Free software is a matter of the users' freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software. More precisely, it means that the program's users have the four essential freedoms:

* The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0). * The freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this. * The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2). * The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3). By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

"Free" as in "free speech," not as in "free beer."

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Copyright and the internet

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  • As more people come online, their popular culture is increasingly expressed and shared materially outside geographic bounds
    • And that material is circulating in the same media ecologies as its sources
  • Networked personal computers are constantly making copies of things
    • e.g. You never "visit" a webpage, you "request" it from a server and view it locally
  • Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA), 1994
    • Copyright term is extended to death + 70
    • Explicit affirmation of the notion that citizens have a natural right to "intellectual property"
  • Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), 1998
    • Anti-circumvention
    • Safe harbor provision
  • Immediate threats to the expression of popular culture:
    • Takedown notice
    • Cease & desist notice

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Permission culture

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  • Lessig is a constitutional law scholar who has written previously about the internet, went to the Supreme Court with a librarian from New Hampshire to argue (unsuccessfully) that the Sonny Bono CTEA was unconstitutional
  • He observes the rising gap between social norms and copyright law
  • "Permission culture" describes a situation in which people do not know what they can and can't do with pop industrial materials
"Chilling effects"

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  • When the law is unclear, many people will not do something legal because they are afraid of running afoul of the law or getting sued. This is a chilling effect.
  • "Unwanted externalities"
  • Self-censorship
  • Popular culture is stifled
  • Diversity of voices is not heard
  • The First Amendment, the Marketplace of ideas, and the bedrock of democracy are in jeopardy

Popular culture is remarkably persistent

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  • Despite confusing legislation, lawsuits, etc. popular culture persists
    • But at what cost?
  • The law and social norms have not matched up for a long time
    • Generation that feels a combination of fear, ambivalence, and superiority to the law
    • Rather than feel a part of self-governance, they are alienated by it
  • Huge division between haves + have notes
    • In other words "have lawyers" and "have no lawyers"

Free culture

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  • In a free culture, the law reflects social norms and people are empowered to make confident choices
Creative Commons

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  • Inspired by the GNU GPL, Creative Commons licenses provide legal tools for people to specify how they wish their material to be used
  • Give examples of the licenses

Implications

  • Net neutrality, media industry consolidation
  • Remix, sampling
  • P2P, file-sharing, BitTorrent, Pirate Bay, RIAA lawsuits
  • DRM, Trusted computing, Closed hardware
  • Privacy, Facebook, data mining
  • Education, learning, teaching, publishing

Open Access to academic research and resources

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What is the traditional form of academic publishing?

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  • Academic periodicals provided quicker access to the latest research than books
    • Not the same as magazines or other periodicals
    • Small audience of peers
  • Authors got feedback on in-progress projects
  • Publishers arranged the layout, reproduction, and distribution
    • Charged subscription fees to individuals + institutions
  • In recent years, much of this material is mirrored online (or published online only)
    • Made available through searchable databases of PDFs
  • Note: authors are usually not paid for publications in scholarly journals

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How is OA different?

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"Open-access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. What makes it possible is the internet and the consent of the author or copyright-holder." -- "A very brief introduction to Open Access", Peter Suber, http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/brief.htm

  • "Price barriers", No cost gratis electronic access
  • "Permission barriers", Permission for all scholarly uses
    • Relaxed copyright permissions: many use a form of CC license

Two big areas of confusion

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  • Peer review
  • Impact

Peer review

How does it work?

  • Submissions are anonymized, e.g. no identifiable information in the text of the article
  • Journal editors mediate a double-blind review process by which "referees" provide feedback on the article, recommend changes, and approve/disapprove of its publication

Why is it important?

  • Peer review is intended to ensure that submissions are judged on their scholarly merits rather than the social status or reputation of their authors
  • For readers, peer review is intended to instill a sense of trust in the publication and its contents

How is it affected by OA?

  • Not affected very much
  • Referees also volunteer their labor to the peer review process
  • All scholarly OA projects insist on peer review

Impact

  • Prestige
  • Scoring
    • Sketchy process executed by for-profit companies
    • Little motivation to update techniques and account for new media environment
  • Citations
  • Journals care because this is how they stay relevant
  • Authors care, career advancement
  • Presently, we are in a hybrid ecology
    • No large scale assessment of attitudes towards OA
    • Mostly heresay, anecdotal evidence
    • Many OA journals are too young to have comparable impact scores

Why is this a good place to start?

  • Momentum
  • Good fit between norms, values of FC and academia
    • (Unlike pop industries)
  • Note: Academic publishers are not an enemy. We want to support authors and publishers who are trying to figure this out.

Many people benefit from OA

  • Authors: increased visibility, potential impact, audience
  • Readers: increased access
  • Libraries: reduce budget strain of journal subscriptions, provide more comprehensive services
  • Colleges and universities: increased visibility for the work they research they produce
  • Citizens: gain access to research that they support through taxes
  • Can we think of more?

What does it look like after we win?

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  • Better communication, collaboration within and without of the academy
  • International communication
  • More opportunities for students to engage with research
  • Emphasize the unique value of academia apart from industry
  • Multiple layers of publishing: plain language summaries in wiki

Examples:

  • Henry Jenkins' blog
  • Forest Mims III work as an amateur climate scientist
  • Look to ham radio for inspiration
    • What if such a provision existed for other areas of learning?

What is needed to realize an OA future?

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Tech

Funding sources

Before anyone can write an article, they need to do research. There are a variety of ways that research is funded. Each offers an entry point to implementing Open Access

Public funding, public Access

Private funding?

Need to get creative

    • Could publishing costs be built into research budgets?
    • Could departments contribute to the faculty's publishing costs?
    • Could there be special services above and beyond access for which readers will pay?

Policy

  • Creative Commons provides a legal framework for journals and authors to agree on rights and permissions

Norms

  • Seeking out for publication, citation
  • Spreading the word, opening space for dialogue
  • Critically engaging OA materials
  • "Green OA", self-archiving, faculty can start today - often already permitted by non-OA journals
  • In many cases, authors can negotiate better copyright agreements with publishers- but they need to ask

Where does SFC fit in?

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Activism: Overprice Tags, MIT, 2007

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Awareness: OA @ Yale, 2009-now

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Other recent FC projects

Yale reconsiders Google, 2010

FOSS Gaming nights: UPRM, 2010

Linux Installfest, U of Florida, 2010

OCW @ Georgetown, 2009

YouTomb, MIT, 2009

Wikipedia takes Manhattan, NYU/Columbia, 2008

What can you do?

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Tonight?

Sign the Individual Statement on The Right to Research

Raise awareness

  • Join the Students for Free Culture discussion list
  • Follow @r2rc and @freeculture on twitter, identica

This week?

Email a favorite professor

  • Have a conversation with a faculty member about their publishing experiences and Open Access

Webcast Thursday

  • Thursday, October 21st at 4pm PDT
  • Right to Research Coalition is hosting a webcast for students
  • Nick Shockey on the current state of Open Access and student involvement
  • Julia Mortyakova on Open Access from the graduate student perspective
  • To join, email stacie@arl.org

This year?

Links for handout

Free Culture

Open Access