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I basically agree with your argument overall, especially as it applies to scholars and scholarship that benefit from this privileged access. It seems an implicit part of the deal - in exchange for institutional support scholars should give back to their communities, not only through service, but through teaching and their research as well.

I am troubled by two things in this, however (and perhaps would find more if I had the time to dig through it more forcefully).

The first is the point that Luann Hawker makes, which is the need to make a living aspect of things. The model you describe seems to assume that scholarship is only done in an institutional context, and that there is no penalty for giving away information for free. For those of us who have to pay for our own research travel, visits to conferences, and - yes, horrors - things like health benefits, taxes, and even publication fees - it starts feeling like you're advocating a life of sacrifice to scholars who are already sacrificing considerable resources just to keep up with their tenured peers. A bit more acknowledgment that not all scholarship is performed under the same privileged conditions, even here in the developed world, would be appreciated.

The other thing that jumped out at me was this recommendation:

"Wean yourself from using any research materials that an everyday person from a developing country wouldn't have full access to via the Internet"

which betrays a certain bias toward the social sciences and sciences, but which greatly complicates the task of scholars who depend on archival materials like historians.

If I had relied solely on materials available on the Internet when I was preparing my manuscript, I would have had a handful of references to articles and book reviews and no manuscript to speak of. I'm not speaking about things like materials available on J-Stor; I'm talking about the fact that historical research is conducted in archives, some of them small and local and poorly funded, and in many, many cases, part of the reason one is using them and studying their materials is because the contents are not widely known.

If we were to restrict ourselves to only the sources available on the internet, the field would be greatly impoverished and our sense of the past would be distorted in that only sources supported by those with the money and resources to upload them would be "valid" for use.

(Which is part of the larger problem of privilege and access, of course - but also one of sheer volume and lack of person-power).

I think your overall point needs serious consideration - but the details need more input from a range of scholars before it is workable.

Luann Hawker

I've read this 3-4 times in an attempt to absorb it all. The first time I read through it I was thinking, "Hey, scholars need to make a living, too." However, the more I think about it, the more I agree that there are other ways to accomplish this and still make the information openly accessible.

David Hobby comes to mind as a good example of someone that openly provides valuable information. He runs the Strobist blog that teaches photographic lighting techniques. He has taught thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands of photographers how to increase their skill set. Yet he charges nothing for access to the wealth of information on his blog. He is an accomplished photographer in his own right, and earns money from his photos. He also has published a lighting seminar on DVD. The videos are $140 for the 8 disc set, but good luck getting your hands on them because they are hardly ever in stock. They sell like hotcakes. I don't think he would have such a vast following, of which I am one, nor would his DVDs be in such high demand if he was charging a subscription fee for his blog.

I don't know much about the academic community, next to nothing really, so maybe I'm off base about the kind of open access information you are talking about when I refer to David Hobby as an example. But the point I take from your article is that maybe the academic world needs to start thinking less like an elitist institution and more like David Hobby. If they make information readily available, and if the publications have merit and significance, the rest will start taking care of itself.

Barbara Lindsey

By problematicizing academic publishing you help reveal the profoundly political nature of education.

Although specifically addressing the No Child Left Behind Act, what Henry Giroux says are the most fundamental questions that should drive education have resonance here as you challenge the academic publishing status quo. They are: "Why are we there? What is knowledge for? How does it relate to democratic public life? What does it means in terms of providing the conditions for forms of individual and social agency? How does it address questions of injustice? How does it make us better citizens? How does it close the gap between the poor and rich? How does it prepare us for global democracy?" (Culture, Politics & Pedagogy: A Conversation with Henry Giroux: http://youtube.com/watch?v=DgdVCnTTqXA)

Thank you for outlining a bold call to action with specific steps stakeholders can take to divest themselves of the practices of 'Intellectual Apartheid'.

Perhaps we can add to this list:
a) finding ways in which the disenfranchised can participate fully in this conversation

b) providing a venue for individuals, institutions and organizations to share how they are dismantling these hegemonic practices

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