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[Xmca-l] Re: Publishers seek removal of millions of papers from ResearchGate

Hi Alfredo and wonderful others,

My apologies for my late response. It is heartening to learn your thoughts about a different act of publishing on XMCA, and while not identical to the scientific peer review model, does offer an important contribution to many on this list (and off) toward valuable development of academic thought among peers. Below, I say nothing about which no one already knows.

Perhaps (and I say this a little tongue in cheek) it is the "oleophilic peer review" model, in that it greases the gears of peer-creation, "affiliation, membership, credentials" and other milestones of academic life; it is as you say "a whole other thing all together."

I also suggest that the listserv offers us a kind of X-ray vision of how things can transpire, since interactions in the posts, although not total, do provide us breadcrumbs on how little interactions develop and can create larger ones that in turn inspire more formal turns of events that then manifest into scientific peer-reviewed journal articles and books and other expressions of research. Such interactions happened in academic discourse before the list existed, and surely off the list as well, but in particular, I think what it does illustrate is the power of collaboration in the form of discourse in its most free-form and unfettered expression, especially when featuring the of best intentions and unambiguous respect to all interlocutors. It shows the best of what we all can do as a society, despite our differences in philosophies and worldviews.

I am also writing this while Hollywood is imploding from The Revealing White Robe: how a genealogy of a pathology, stretching decades, borne from a single individual can promulgate individual silent vectors that culminate in a deafening censorship of cultural expression for as much as 50% of the population. Also how so many people are also finally being called on the Red Carpet for their complicity to feed the beast inside that robe. From there, we can start to wonder what sort of movies might have been made without this toxicity. Let's just say, we know very well what happens when it goes wrong. But what about when it goes right?

At its best, XMCA can afford for equality of voices, if only because the only real criteria outside of subscribing to the listserv, possessing a burning interest in the discussions, and honoring Very Obvious Netiquette, everyone is welcome. Everyone. Even though  the list possesses affiliation with a university, there is no requirement to be formally affiliated with a university to subscribe to the list. Thank goodness for that. There is also nothing in the technology embodied as a email text message that should filter out or exclude anyone's contribution, except to have access to a computer I suppose and at this point to have some fluency in English.

Everyone can have a voice, in theory and in practice.

Where we go wrong is when there are cultural pathologies that manifest their genealogies and people who would like to speak don't, or won't, because who wants to live with pollution? That is when we lose and that is what is difficult to qualify, like all those movies we will never see because there are so few great women directors (and other folks who are under-represented), and so few great stories told about women's experiences (and other folks who are under-represented).

But now we get into the distribution, which has a value for any one contributor who wants to be read, but moreso a desire to engage with minds who are open to an exchange of ideas.

We want to know what others think about what we think. Is this a good idea? Is it a new idea? is it a futile one? or what about...?

Then, it's that reply that we are delighted to find in the inbox, and the level of interest and the understanding that there was connection and reflection if only for hitting the send button. As humans, that seems to be how we are wired, to find such engagement satisfying. It's not just for academics.

Hoping this is not pedantic, I'd offer XMCA's First Use is discussion of academic topics (more specifically those germane to MCA topics, as it is not just any list), and distribution of texts is Last Use (whether copyrighted or not), say when someone is seeking a text that is difficult to find or esoteric, you know, for example, papers concerning Vygotsky and metacognition! :)

If any copyrighted work is distributed through the list (and isn't all work copyrighted?) then this act of distribution is to bolster this first use and not the last. I suggest that this coupling of first, last, and everything in between (or perhaps I should say chaining) is what sparks our discussion, in the same way a campfire starts conversations (which is just the burning of wood, the pulp of which paper is made): The static text (in the form of a journal article or book) becomes fuel for what can be said about it.

No one here comes for copies of the text like a college student might have gone to Napster in the 90s, to download and then leave. List members come for the discussion about the texts, or better, for the questions, answers, and ideas that the discussions generate. The texts might not have even been read, even though it helps the discussion to do the homework and do the reading as soon as you can sure.

This First Use, as far as I can tell, is legally sanctioned by copyright fair use and, as I've already said, it helps provide wider access that might not otherwise provide exposure to a wider readership, which does begin the roundabout virtuous spiral of distribution and cultural sharing, more distribution and more cultural sharing (and we hope more publishing too).

This form of free speech we enjoy is our act of cultural sharing, like singing of a song (whether in the shower or while snapping down the street), and what the contents are of that speech determine what sort of culture is there. Our culture happens to be mind, culture, and activity, which is actually a kind of metacognition about culture (reference to the Braten paper is intentional!)

To restrict the chopping of wood would mean no campfires could be started, and no blazing beacons could be found on the coastlines of the internet, resulting in very mechanical and non-dynamic exchanges where nothing new and exciting could be discovered, or there might even be crashing on dark shores of ships run aground.

I'm not sure if these metaphors are doing their jobs. I hope so.

So, yeah, that is why these publishers who are going after Research Gate are really getting it wrong.

Of course, when it comes to attribution and copyright, I am curious when an author can and cannot legitimately request a work not be distributed on a list if it is executed in the boundaries of fair use? It's certainly polite to ask and a genuine courtesy we would all want, but is there a greater loss to society when a text cannot be shared?

Do we all miss out on something for all those unpublished writings by J. D. Salinger? Or how about the Oxyrhynchus Papyri?

I don't know. How can we know?

Some publishers would just call this trash! They certainly aren't squabbling over that, and why not? :)

Kind regards,