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[ox-en] scientific lockdown by publishers: the case of hacking capitalism

I wrote this in my blog, at

"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.

She writes:

"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

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

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