February 2012 Archives
The UK makes a lot of its place in the knowledge economy, at times seemingly relying on it to drive us out of recession and back to growth. And we have been previously successful in this - the recent sale of Autonomy to HP provides commercial evidence for this.
But will this continue? Does the Knowledge Economy have such a bright future?
Or rather, the maps of Britain? The OS? companies? us? In a few weeks, I'm attending a meeting with the Ordnance Survey to discuss how they can work more closely with higher education. However, thinking about this highlights an interesting conundrum: why is it that a taxpayer-funded institution is charging for access to its data, whereas a commercial company is offering mapping for free?
There is a minor furore at present within academic circles over the activities of Elsevier, the publisher.
Claims are being made that they offer their books and journals to libraries at very expensive prices, or bundled up into large packages, which means that the costs to academic institutions is ever rising.
The frustration is caused because the content of the journals is provided by academics, who write the papers.
The quality of the journals is created by the academics, who review and comment on the papers.
The editor and editorial board, who are academics, set the tone and style of the journals.
The papers are often provided to fit a given format, so that the majority of the typesetting is done by the academics.
And all the academic effort is given for free: the protest is therefore at the exploitation of publically funded research and publically funded academics by private companies for profit.