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Sobre Aaron Schwarz y JSTOR

Ayer se dio a conocer una noticia un tanto anómala: Aaron Schwarz había sido detenido por el FBI debido a que supuestamente intentó apoderarse de una cantidad ingente de artículos académicos de la base de datos de JSTOR desde las instalaciones del Instituto de Tecnología de Massachusetts (MIT, por sus siglas en inglés).

Hoy me encuentro con un largo artículo del cual tomo segmentos en los cuales resalto algunas ideas que me interesan.


A continuación fragmentos del artículo "The difference between Google and Aaron Swartz" de Kevin Webb.

Reading about Aaron Swartz’s recent run-in with the law dredged up all kinds of feelings. I’m a long-time admirer of his work and was saddened to hear of his troubles. At the same time, reading the indictment, I was surprised by the seriousness of the charges and evidence against him.
The mechanisms for sharing academic discourse are broken. They barely even function as systems for connecting interested parties within existing disciplines. Ask just about anyone who spends their time writing or consuming scholarly work and you will hear a litany of complaints about how poorly suited the academic publishing industry is to modern day collaboration.
That said, it’s unclear what Swartz’s intentions for his scraped JSTOR content was. Some folks, including the FBI, have made the claim he was planning to redistribute the data. Others have pointed to his past research analyzing influence in academic writing. I have no insight into his real intentions, however, I do believe the latter goal is important and likely not possible without breaking the kinds of laws discussed above.
Also, it’s true that JSTOR does now offer a bulk interface for research users. That interface didn’t exist when I was doing my work. But it’s not clear it would have made any difference. There are many, many research applications, including mine, that are still not possible with approved means of accessing data. This essentially means that if you want to understand the collaborative nature of a specific field or follow the trajectory of and idea across disciplines, a reference librarian can’t help you. Instead, you have to become a felon.
What’s missing from the news articles about Swartz’s arrest is a realization that the methods of collection and analysis he’s used are exactly what makes companies like Google valuable to its shareholders and its users. The difference is that Google can throw the weight of its name behind its scrapers, just as my former boss used his name to set the terms with those publishing his work.
First, as a society we’ve forgotten the Jeffersonian ideal that intellectual property laws should enable and encourage the spread of ideas and creative pursuits rather than lock them away. Many have fought for a return to this vision, however, the prospects for such change seem dim. If there’s anywhere this idea should still have a fighting chance, it’s within the walls of universities.
But this leads to the second and perhaps more fundamental problem: journals are only partly about communicating. They’re also about controlling academic discourse. The editorial power held by journals and those that run them (quite different from those that own them) shapes most academic careers and the very structure of disciplines. It’s almost certain that pursuing new forms of collaboration and communication will reshape these power structures–sometimes subtly, sometimes not. That’s the nature of change.
Change, however, doesn’t come easily within academic communities. It should be no surprise that universities have done far more to free the content of their courses than they have the content of their publications. The former has economic value, however, the latter holds the keys to the academy itself.
This conservatism is at least in part responsible for why, despite the new possibilities offered by the web, most scholarly work is still published as though it were 1580. It’s also responsible for allowing a handful of powerful corporations to gate access to this knowledge and make authors pay for the privilege of signing away rights to their own work.
Aaron’s arrest should be a wake up call to universities–evidence of how fundamentally broken this core piece of their architecture remains despite d ecades of progress in advancing communication and collaboration.
The MIT staff who called the FBI would have been served better by calling the chancellor to ask, “How have we created a system that forces 25 year-olds to sneak around in the basement, hiding hard-drives in closets in order ask basic and important questions about our work? Can’t we do better?”

Enlace: The difference between Google and Aaron Swartz (más en structural knowledge)