Saturday, 2 December 2006

Uneasy confluence of thought and commerce

The growing discontent of universities with journal publishers of monopolistic tendencies has got me intrigued. It makes me realise to what extent academia is an unaligned network of various bodies pushing completely different agendas: government and private funding bodies pump money into universities for research which they believe will somehow better society, academics are driven by a voracious university system to publish or perish to justify receiving large grants, and journal publishers on the far right are busy raking in the money since they get free content which they sell back to the university libraries for astonishing amounts.

The entire system is lopsided. What starts off as a high-minded altruistic exercise quickly degenerates into appalling institutionalised political acts within university departments, turning eventually into an enterprise of right-winged capitalism and greed.

Public funding for research which is supposed to aid society at large somehow leads to arcane and expensive knowledge. Unaligned? Unfair? Damn right.

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