Open Access & Anti-élitism

May 19th, 2006 by Gabriel Bodard

From Academic Commons:

Michael Carroll, Law Professor at Villanova University School of Law , Creative Commons Board Member, and Blogger, turns up the heat in the on-going debate over pending federal legislation that would force open access to research supported with federal money. He suggests that publishers, not content to settle for the obvious economic arguments against open access, have begun working a less savory side of the street: an appeal to elitism. He writes:

The elitist argument holds that taxpayers cannot be trusted with open access because they might harm themselves by misreading or misunderstanding an article written by specialists for specialists. In the case of biomedical research, the argument goes, open access could lead non-specialist members of the public to self-treat, to fail to seek medical attention, and/or to disobey doctor’s orders.”

Sometimes the debates around technology’s future feel like tilting at windmills. Arguments like Carroll’s remind us that the stakes are high, and that there are in fact genuine consequences to the outcomes of what often feel like arcane technical debates.

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