"The shift towards open access is an opportunity to reform academic publishing to better serve the public interest," says Marc Couture. But the indifference of academics and institutions continues to allow publishers to extract millions from the system. "In theory, researchers have the upper hand in academic publishing," wrutes Couture. "They already do most of the work involved." But "the majority of researchers, the role of publishing is not so much to ensure the widest possible dissemination of their findings at the lowest cost, but to build up their standing and their professional portfolio." This entices them into a reputation system controlled by the publishers. Image: Paula Callan and Sarah Brown.
The headline of this article makes a great point but unfortunately the article doesn't follow up, choosing instead to blame distrust on misunderstandings on the part of the public. For example: "When people talk about their confidence about higher education or the media, they don’t pause and think, ‘What would happen if we didn’t have them?’" OK, fine, but that's not what causes distrust. Yes, people focus on "their indiscretions and controversies," but in the case of news media there were just so many of them, ranging from a concentration of corporate ownership, a focus on the trivial, stage and altered images, abetting the misleading of the public, all the way to outright sexism and racism. We didn't need apologists for the rich and powerful, which is why we began to distrust the press, and to believe we could live without them.
What can academia learn from this? The lesson would seem to be obvious, but the article doesn't touch it. The media was prompted into dishonesty by its owners and sponsors; could the same happen to universities? It doesn't help that universities allow the manipulation of research results. Or using research to influence public opinion. Abetting academic dishonesty. Excluding the poor. All the way to outright sexism and racism. So long as universities are seen as taking the side of the rich and powerful, to the detriment of the rest of us, they will be increasingly distrusted. It's a clear message. But what will it take for universities to hear it?
First Object Teleported from Earth to Orbit
This article uses the term 'object' and 'teleported' in a very specialized sense, so don't think of this as Star Trek. Still. When two photons are created at the same time and place, they become 'quantum entangled', so that any change to one photon also happens to the other, no matter how far apart they are (it's like hitting one twin in New York and having the other twin in Paris feeling the pain). The Chinese have succeeded (16 page PDF) in sending some of these photons in space and demonstrating entanglement effects at distances of up to 1400 kilometers, creating the possibility of instantaneous communications over long distances, "an essential step toward global-scale quantum internet."
As an aside, the philosopher Mo Di (also known as Mo-Tzu, and called Micius in this article) flourished in China around the same time Socrates lived in Greece, in the 4th century BCE. Mo Di was a follower of Confucius, but felt he was too formal and aristocratic; Mo Di "was drawn to the common people and looked much farther back to a life of primitive simplicity and straightforwardness in human relations."
The 'how to pay for it' part is 'apply for foundation grants'. This obviously won't work for everyone (especially outside the United States). The better part of the article is the description of activities and tools used to create a digital makerspace, ranging from Ozobot to Makey Makey to Polar 3D, a cloud based 3D printer.
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Copyright 2017 Stephen Downes Contact: firstname.lastname@example.orgThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.