Greed Journals

Two Day. And myrmidons back in gym this morning. And the podcasts not quite as good. A Guardian Science podcast about the misuse of Mary Jane in the UK, and various snippets from NPR, mostly about the Yankee Army’s problems with cyberwar.

The latter is not surprising. Class As and hacking are almost immiscible. And the organizational climate of a two century old organization is definitely inimical to geeks. 

I knew and worked with an earlier age group of geeks, the guys who did missile air defense and tactical nukes for the YA. Basically a bunch of guys who wore a facade of starched khakis and corpse-loyalty until the Organizational Stress Disorder turned them to mind mush. The only ones who survived reasonably intact were the absolute cynics who treated the whole thing as a mixture of role-playing game and tie wearing. Of course these weren’t exactly sane to begin with. 

Which raises the question of whether anyone who makes a career of military service is? Which generates my answer of “who is sane?” in return. The only people I have ever met who are obviously sane are not people I want to have anything to do with. 

On which azimuth, I ran across a lovely article [Link] entitled “Science magazine just tried to defend its paywall and totally missed the point “. This is a righteous article about the scam that is the refereed journal. Especially the ones not published by professional organizations. 

The journal put up some arguments of why they charge:

  • Online publishing is just as expensive as print – journals need to make money to hire illustrators, communicators, editor, and tech staff.
  • Journals uphold the quality of published research and make it more convenient for readers, so we need to keep them around.
  • Scientists can’t download stats from Sci-Hub, so they can’t tell how many people have read and accessed their research, which could affect grant applications.

These are so laughable that it almost isn’t worth impeaching them.

A couple of decades ago, when electronic journals were a gleam, I served on a committee to look at the costs of going to an electronic journal system with Print-On-Demand. The committee was comprised of academics, business types, and government wonks so there was some reality in its work. And our conclusions were that electronic journals would cost about half to a third of paper journals. And that was before the cost of servers dropped. 

One of the problems was that what the society charged to journals was based on their costs and thereby how much money they made. If it costs you a dollar to produce an article the you can sell it for five. If it costs a dime then fifty cents isn’t enough income for the fat at the top. And we won;t even mention that that factor of four profit is WAY out of LINE. GREED. 

Yep. That’s what journal publishing is all about. GREED. Almost as bad as politicians. Definitely Capitalists being blood suckers on society.

And for the other two points. The quality journals are published by professional organizations. Who are supposed to exist for the benefit of their professionals. The not-professional organizations who publish journals are neither quality nor particularly trustworthy. In fact, they a one with diploma mill schools. 

And Stats? Admittedly that may challenge a lot of IT blue collars but it only takes one wonk to write a FOSS database for the purpose.

So let’s pull these leeches off the body social.