On May 20, 2012, I joined Mike Carroll, Mike Rossner, and Heather Joseph to start a campaign for a federal policy to require free access to scholarly articles emerging from taxpayer funded research. We decided to launch a petition on the We the People website.
We hit the 25,000 signature number pretty quickly, and I got a few calls from DC people asking what the hell was going on. This was before every maniac who wanted to secede started a petition - it was, and still is, a backwater, and we figured we could make some noise there. It worked.
We have not.
I am told there is a conversation going on. I am asked to be patient. I am tired of being patient. I’m tired of the power of publisher money carrying the day, delaying the policy, blocking the flow of knowledge.
It’s time to make taxpayer funds turn into taxpayer goods. It’s up to the businesses to figure out how to make money in the new world - if you can’t figure out how to adapt your business to the network, you will merely be the latest in a long line of dinosaurs dating back to Digital Equipment Corp and running straight through to Newsweek. I do not cry for you.
It’s time to bring an end to the barriers to new businesses. Time to enable new entrepreneurs, who make money from increasing the free flow of information rather than by restricting it. Time for search engines that make it easy to find and integrate the literature. Time to enable people outside the institutional system who might take scholarly knowledge and turn it into products, into policies, into something of use.
It’s time for an answer. And if we don’t get the answer that says, “you paid for it, it’s yours,” it’s going to be time to escalate this from something on a sleepy backwater petition site to a protest that the whole world will notice.