For me this is a more important purpose of Sci-Hub than for academics. If an academic wants a paper he/she can ask colleagues, check the library, email the author or other people in the field.
But what if you're a 17 year old, or an interested amateur? You don't have those options, or worse, don't even know they exist.
I realize that it costs money to publish journals and papers, but the system that we have now seems broken.
If people were free to copy ideas and products, we would make an extraordinary amount of progress in a very short time.
We already have somewhat of this situation in reality. Many people involved in research a very poorly paid. Is it really resulting in better/faster research, or just people moving from academia to industry, and a lot of benefits pocketed by side actors?
> If it does, it encourages the people who I don't want to be innovating in the first place.
I.e., people who do not have lots of resources and need to figure out how to survive? You only want to see innovation from rich people with nice safety nets?
The answer for many jobs is yes. We know this because volunteers exist, personal projects exist, people help each other fix their roofs and cars and fridges, etc.
In a society like this, things might move a little more slowly (probably we wouldn't have the airline or public Transit systems we have now), but things would absolutely still get done.
Volunteers and especially personal projects really strike me as activities one undertakes when they have secondary means of survival and/or safety nets. The latter is commonly mentioned as problematic in terms of requiring GitHubs from job applicants.
The existence of these people is not sufficient, we also have to prove that these people are not distributed in some highly biased way, which I suspect, they are. There could be a lot of consequence to such biases. For instance, software developers creating software that blind people can't use.
Posting my projects here on Hacker News gets attention, which might possibly lead to a job offer. (In practice this doesn't work all the time, but it's been more successful in the past than trying to cold-email HR departments). I think personal projects show my interests and skills better than interviews.
On that note, I am looking for work, and I'll do your (2 month) project for free just to get a reference letter. The 2 month limit is because I'll be out of cash by then.
I think you'll have much better luck with such things with the hobby group. Commercial software is done by focusing on tasks that make money. Blind people are unlikely to make you money, unless you fall under regulations that will fine you for not catering for this group. Hobby software is focused on making the actual artifact, the program, better. Getting it accessible to blind users is clearly making it better.
I'm not sure if you find their social, cultural, and material progress sufficient for your taste.
This is why people completely discount volunteering, childcare, elder care, community associations, and more when they talk about the economy. If it's not earning a profit for somebody, it's not considered work.
But it of course is not living without any labor at all, Eden-style.
And you could theoretically look at history before the modern concept of capitalism to see what gets done and what doesn't. I'd argue that saying we didn't have airplanes is underselling it by quite a bit - we went through how many centuries in which things barely progressed? And I'm talking things like "kids not doing quite as much".
Say, we're at the beginning of the neolithic age, and our village has just discovered agriculture, and the magic of iron ploughs. We already have food supply enough for 6 months.
There's just one small farm left, someone needs to go mine for iron ores, and someone needs to plough the fields, someone needs to sow the seeds.
One person 'volunteers' to do all three tasks because they couldn't agree on who'll do the mining.
The village decides to feed this guy while he does all these things, because he can't hunt while he's working. The 'volunteer' realizes that he could share part of his food with someone else in exchange for some help with iron ore mining and plough-building.
Ok we're now back to the monetary system.
The catch is, of course, that they do so after having secured the material means for that. You don't go play music just for fun is you're starving. But when you reliably are not starving, you can find resources for having fun.
maslow-pyramid.png should be attached here.
It's weird that patent durations are one sized fits all, even though how long you can capture value is completely dependent on the industry.
Anyway, even with temporary monopolies, the legal system is stacked in the favor of those with money, so I don't really see how that helps people with no resources.
Corporations are shifting copyright law to their favor.
And as institutions they can do things that individuals can’t. Like aggregate content and become forces of nature in their own right.
Property rights are predicated on exclusion. This is especially true of intellectual property.
Todays patent wars (yes, I'm aware the present article addresses copyright) feel new, but in fact are merely echoes of earlier abuses -- Watt's stem engine patents and extension (1770s), Westinghous, Edison and lightbulbs, or Norbert Wiener's lifelong excoriation of AT&T, refeereenced in this brief video clip:
Copyright carries absolutely massive deadweight losses.
The principle of private land ownership, as distinguished from either common holdings or a tenancy granted by (usually) royal charter, is fairly novel. And the distortionary consequences of rents amongst the oldest and most pernicious problems in economics.
But it is not possible to argue against property's very mechanism. It is a grant of right of exclusion under legal sanction.
Proudhon's original words on this are well worth reading, if an unpopular opinion these days.
Why not? You're saying things that seem to fly in the face of what almost any economist thinks, that fly in the face of common sense, and that fly in the face of actually asking people why they do what they do.
So why do you think what you're saying is true?
I like to build, a lot. I'm obsessive about it. I would like to build something useful, have it picked up freely, then move on to the next thing that I think would make a difference. I think a lot of innovators are like this. People like money, of course, but I think the builders would still build with no competitive protections.
I'm not saying patents are implemented perfectly right now, or that there aren't better possible alternatives (and I think at least one of my examples is a case where things usually aren't protected by patents). But I think it's wrong to assume that innovation will happen At the same rate if you remove most of the money in it.
(and again, just look at the history here - almost all innovation for hundreds of years came from the few really privileged few who could do innovation for fun, afaict)
Inventors may do it for fun but capital needs to generate an ROI to justify its existence and in a growth obsessed global economy, scientific and technological progress leading to spending power increases is the only reliable growth mechanism. Massive underinvestmet in long term prospects and over reliance on government granted monopolies is a symptom of our IP system, not an argument for its existence.
I mean, the whole point of granting a monopoly is to give incentives to investors to invest in biotech, so that they can reap the reward of it. You haven't explained why an investor will choose to invest in something at the same level, if they aren't able to get the same money back for it?
If a drug company didn't have a monopoly, the generics that drive down the price of the drug would be out the day after the drug, thus ruining most potential profits. Therefore, developing new drugs wouldn't be worth as much money, so less people will invest in it. You seem to completely agree with this point when you write: "Inventors may do it for fun but capital needs to generate an ROI to justify its existence and in a growth obsessed global economy, scientific and technological progress leading to spending power increases is the only reliable growth mechanism."
The whole (practical) idea of the capitalistic system in e.g. the US is to align private incentives with public incentives, so if someone develops a worthwhile drug (or e.g. writes a good book), they will be able to receive a reward for it. Just because scientific and tech progress is the only growth mechanism, doesn't give any one specific investor the incentive to invest in it (I forget the technical term for it, it's a kind of commons problem).
Again, I'm not sure I understand you, because you seem to be saying something similar, but coming to a completely different conclusion?
This might put a finger on a weird feeling I have about the economy right now. We have a trillion dollar company that is producing easily copied electronics (their operating system is harder to replicate), we have very drugs that can be easily ripped off into generics, we have media that commands hundred plus dollar a month subscriptions that can be readily shared online. I guess the feeling that I can finally put to words is that all of this stuff is horribly mispriced.
Would there be a single initial investment? No, probably not. There would still be profit opportunity though. Innovation would be spread between more parties. Rather than one company doing huge amounts of R&D it would be many individuals making incremental improvements, to address their own needs or to address profit opportunities. It is the same with software ideas, I could tell you my most brilliant idea (give up my monopoly) but the chances that you would go and implement it are low. Not everyone is going to be producing generics, not everyone can, not everyone wants to. The profit does not go to zero, hopefully it would just go to affordable.
Maybe we're better off without that software. Or maybe its useful enough that a group of IRS agents and lawyers would still be willing to pay somebody to build it, even though they don't get new "IP" out of it.
I mean, would you fund the development of MacOS / Windows by yourself, just so you can use it? (Keep in mind that person #2 can then free-ride on your funding and buy it practically at cost, since why not?).
Or let's take the argument to books. I assume most people wouldn't fund someone's salary for a year to write a book. But I really enjoy the end result of the fact that someone can write a book, then spread their costs on thousands of people. (I'm not too worried about the JK Rowling's of the world, btw, I'm worried about a mid-level author, not someone who is rich in our world, someone who manages to make a decent living off of a back-catalogue of dozens of stories and books. They're the ones who are usually the most hurt). You can of course extend this argument to things that cost a lot more to produce - movies, music, etc. Many things we value would not have been produced, simply because of lack of incentives (or lack of time while these people do some other job to earn money).
You can certainly think of alternative methods of funding these things, but they have their own problem. E.g. something like Patreon, which in some ways is a homage to how things were funded before modern capitalism - a rich patron would fund specific artists to produce great works.
And that's great! I love Patreon, and support numerous very deserving creators on there. But this has problems too - for one, some things are too expensive to do this way (e.g. most movies). For another, patronage gives a huge preference to things people know will work (how many people will fund drug-research to the tune of billions, with a small chance of success?). And patronage gives a preference to things people knowingly prefer - and again, we miss out on the mid-level artists of today scraping by, who can't get a large enough following, but still get some fans (and who potentially turn out to later be considered geniuses).
I'm not saying IP is perfect, and I certainly don't agree with all the things done for it (like the numerous extensions to IP which might not make sense). And our current system has issues too! We "missed" artists like Van Gogh, after all. I'm just saying that taking an un-nuanced view at this and concluding "IP is terrible, let's just get rid of it" is, in my mind, incredibly wrongheaded, at least if you believe that it won't significantly change the amount of stuff produced for the worse. You might have reasons to prefer that anyway, I suppose, but let's first understand the actual effects of throwing out IP law.
Enough. During my professional life, the software companies I worked for built business software like that, and we licensed it under A/LGPL. Much of it actually published online for everyone to use.
Instead of relying from rents based on IP, we simply got paid ahead of time to build new applications, or change existing ones. Lawyers would simply do the same if they need that software, either individually or as a group. Crowdfunding works too (even for B2B software!).
Now, "most economists" are not anti-IP, because most economists have never read a paper even touching on the economics of IP. And while the literature is pretty damning, it's not one of those integrated conclusions of the field that every economist gets taught in school, like the idiocy of rent control.
Economists models for human behavior do sometimes work.
This is news to me. The last article I published was automatically typeset using LaTeX, following a template provided by the publisher that has not really changed in years. Hardly anyone, universities included, actually request or require printed copies; those who prefer paper copies typically print a PDF of the article they want using a generic office printer. Articles are selected for publication by volunteer reviewers, and in many cases the editors are also volunteers.
At this point there is no actual need for publishing companies, which is why the system seems like it is broken.
- 3,700 papers in my field were published last week. Which, if any, should I read?
- How's Bob's career doing? Should he get tenure? A promotion? A grant?
Under the system we have now, you should read papers in your field if they have been published in a journal you respect, and your career is a success if you're getting published in journals that your evaluators respect. If everyone self-published their own work -- which is the historical norm -- people would need to work out other methods of judging the quality of a paper than "Elsevier said this was good".
Excuse me, but this decision is not being made by the publisher. It's being made by hard working volunteer reviewers, who are typically not paid by the publisher. These reviewers are the people actually deciding what papers are accepted or rejected, and thus deciding which you read, and they deserve credit for it.
I think you mean to point out that the publishers are the abstract entities to which prestige is attached (often for historical reasons), which they certainly are. Though that's slowly starting to change, as researchers move towards open access and away from for-profit publishers.
I'm saying that it isn't. Modulo weird edge cases, the publisher delegates that decision to reviewers. If they choose to reject a paper, then it gets rejected.
Unless I'm really mistaken about how things work. My only first-hand experience is in PL, a field in which we publish in conferences rather than journals. I've sat in on a PC meeting where the decision to accept or reject papers was made. In cases where the reviews were clear, the paper was accepted or rejected without fanfare. For borderline papers, the decision was made through discussion among the reviewers who had reviewed that paper and the PC. I don't think the PC members were paid for it. The reviewers certainly weren't.
> Nobody cares what they think.
I care what they think. It would be really interesting and informative to have a system where paper reviews were public.
EDIT: What's your experience with publishers? Do you know more than I do?
Here is a (now somewhat old) breakdown of per-article costs, contrasting open access and subscription journals: https://www.nature.com/news/open-access-the-true-cost-of-sci...
From my perspective the main values that an modern open access publication provide are primarily emotional labor: 1) herding cats: all those reviewers and editors that are volunteering are incredibly flaky and need to be hounded by phone, in person, etc. This can't be automated because everybody ignores bots. 2) resolving disputes. hopefully the median paper goes through the process smoothly, but any dispute involving prominent researchers will require dozens of hours of careful mediation, fact-checking, and follow-up. 3) generally being a responsible institution (not suffering fraud or embezzlement, planning for change over time, etc), which is valuable because humans don't have the time or capacity to judge every piece of content from scratch and fall back on reputation. All of these tasks require competent, savy, and highly trained folks, or the whole thing falls apart. Many in the old (subscription) world would say that open access publishers have already cut corners at $3k/article, and if you read around on the internet everybody complains about how long it takes to get responses or resolve disputes, so maybe they are right.
If these numbers sound totally bogus to you, maybe you should jump in to the publishing business and undercut everybody with superior service? Try writing a business model. As to whether we need publishing at all, i'd also try convincing researchers and authors to just post their results on blogs or wikis, which have zero barriers, require no new development, etc. I think authors/researchers value the services publishers provide, even apart from the whole branding/reputation/incentives game. Even pre-print repositories involve a degree of labor to review, moderate, and resolve disputes.
"automatically typeset using LaTeX" is only a norm in a few fields, which are all relatively well resourced and tech-savy. The fact that extra typesetting labor is involved in fields that don't use LaTeX might be one reason that pre-prints have been slower to take of in fields not covered by, eg, arxiv.org.
Another class of costly labor is copy editing and getting details right. This means things like tracking down every single citation and making sure they exist and are formatted correctly, spelling corrections, making graphs color-blind accessible, etc. This is hard to automate with current tooling; a lot of time and resources are currently being spent on next-generation open source publishing/manuscript pipelines to make this sort of thing more machine-verifiable, but it's going to be a long struggle to get authors (legitimately busy and distracted and over please-do-everything-this-new-disruptive-way-please-ed) to change their established field-specific workflows.
This process has begun in several fields:
The reason that these types of journals have not completely disrupted those fields is not that their business model is flawed (I don't think they are even for-profit), but that academics know that their future job prospects rely on the reputation of journals they have published in.
"If these numbers sound totally bogus to you, maybe you should jump in to the publishing business and undercut everybody with superior service?"
I think you misunderstood my point: I think publishing companies are completely obsolete and that we should do away with them. Once upon a time publishing companies were necessary to distribute research papers on a mass scale. Today we have the Internet, which serves that need at far lower cost and also makes it easier to organize things like peer review.
Prior to the printing press there were no scientific journals, and knowledge was spread peer-to-peer and at great expense. Things changed because of what was a new technology at the time. Now we have another new technology that is changing how scientific knowledge is spread, and scientists will have to change accordingly.
"it's going to be a long struggle to get authors...to change their established field-specific workflows."
If that is what keeps the publishing companies relevant, I would say they are a dying industry and that we should hasten their death.
They can't ignore the fact that their work won't get published until they've finished their required number of reviews. It's easy to build in the right incentives, and review work should be part of thier professional responsibilities, and can be baked into the publishing platform they use.
Not that much. Nature sends me paper versions of most of their journals for free (so does Blood, so do some others) for (as far as I can tell) the sole purpose of getting me to read the ads. It's fine, I suppose, but I preprint all my papers anyways (some go to Nature-brand journals, most don't), and honestly their editing isn't even playing the same sport as, say, NEJM (which really does add a lot).
Most of the time the versions on *Xiv (not just my papers, but most other authors' too) are at least as good as the ones that get published in vanity journals. Sometimes they're better, since there are times that a topic really is complicated enough to take 50 pages and 30 figures. Rarely, but still -- it's not like the same 30 figures aren't just crammed into "panels" (smaller, harder to read figures) in glamor journals (or tossed into the supplement; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/core/lw/2.0/html/tileshop_pmc/t... is one of my favorite figures of all time and it's stuffed into an "Extended Data Figure" FFS!).
Chan-Zuckerberg and the Simons Foundation pay for bioRxiv and arXiv respectively, seemingly without much trouble, so I contend that publishing papers isn't actually that expensive, certainly relative to the benefit of doing so in a way that is accessible to the public who funds most of them.
More general: How much human progress has been lost to copyright laws?
Weren't the Grail trials in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade a kind of DRM to prevent people people who no license from accessing the Grail? And isn't the scene where the grail temple callapsed when Elsa tried to steal the Grail just a second layer of the Grail's physical DRM system?
FTDI actually attempted to brick counterfeit chips via their Windows driver: See for example
(HN discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8493849 ).
This extortion is inflicted by non corporal parasites.
And sorry the costs of copying and storing bits grows smaller every day, as it has since forever.
The solution to this problem seems to be to get rid of promotions based on these for profit publications.
If your research isn't open access, then it can't be taken into account for promotions or hiring decisions.
Not just that. At some universities professors can lose their jobs if they don't get enough funding within a year.
“I am of the opinion that you are struggling to fulfil the metrics of a Professorial post at Imperial College which include maintaining established funding in a programme of research with an attributable share of research spend of £200k p.a and must now start to give serious consideration as to whether you are performing at the expected level of a Professor at Imperial College."
It doesn't take that long to count citations, which defuses the usual excuse for using impact factor as a metric. (And some really shitty journals have surprisingly high impact factors -- they just don't publish much of anything in a given year, e.g. Science Immunology has exactly one primary research article in its entire August 2018 issue!)
Ultimately, it's funders who decide what "counts", because indirects from grants (money money money) is the only real currency. You can publish once every five years in the Journal of Irreproducible Results, but if you have a $20M P01 for those five years, you're getting promoted anyways. So when Chan-Zuckerberg or the Gates foundation says "OA or nothing", then it matters. Universities will keep licking their balls until the purse strings tighten, but once that happens, hoo-eee! It's amazing how quick them OA pubs count for promotion. (Secret: it was never the publications.)
As an academic, I hope that it is reasonable to claim that it is not academic profiteering; it is publisher profiteering. Academics don't see a dime from (and often spend many dimes on) the usurious fees imposed by publishers.
Why? For what gain?
Wikipedia seems to handle much higher hosting costs alright. Why can't we do the same for open access journals?
The authors are not paid. The referees (who do peer review) are not paid. The editors are not paid. The authors submit LaTeX, so no professional typesetters are needed. Eliminate the hard-copy printed journal, which no one reads these days, and all you are left with are the costs of hosting and maintaining a website -- which doesn't need to be at all fancy. That's dirt cheap.
Research papers are a more obvious problem that is also easier to fix, but labs is nonetheless also a problem. Especially in fields where physical experiments are required, such as biology and chemistry, it's really hard to get anywhere without a lab, and running your own may be prohibitive and at times even illegal.
Now, LibGen serves a similar purpose (but there's lots of stuff elsewhere that it doesn't have either...)
Do you know a good place where one could find this lots of other stuff? Asking, let us say, for a friend.
That said, whenever I do find something rare and useful, I upload a copy to LibGen too.
Thank you. You're doing God's work.
You find a local university library that has those or you write the author of the paper
Writing the author is a fine idea and could lead to some great correspondence. It could also be a huge time sink if, like me, you look at a few dozen papers on the topic only to find one or two are really applicable.
Was this worse than before? The option of going to a suitable library did not suddenly vanish. The web just let you know what was there.
Damn, I am impressed!
Aside from it's primary benefit of making access possible, one of the really nice things about it is that it uses open standards (regular unauthenticated HTTP, DOIs, no clever js obfuscation). This means that whenever you're searching for a paper and see a DOI, you can do something like:
wget --recursive --span-hosts --no-directories --accept '*.pdf' --quiet \
--execute robots=off https://sci-hub.tw/$DOI
DOI stands for Digital Object Identifier. It is a unique ID number that all mainstream academic articles receive upon publication.
The main function of the DOI is for copy-pasting into Sci-Hub to access the PDF of the paper you wish to read.
This thinking is slowly beginning to change, and the rapid growth of preprints in biology is helping a lot as well. There is growing recognition that journals in their traditional form may not be a great thing for science. There are a lot of different ideas about what the future of publishing and scholarly communication look like, and lots of experiments are being done right now.
it has been "beginning to change" for 20 years now. The fundamentals of how prestige/significance is allocated have not changed however, apart from the fact that there are a few reputable open access publishers like elife.
Of course! So few people in the world read these papers already, it is absurd to deny access to interested minds. Publicly funded research needs to come with open access strings.
Open access review and channelization is still an open problem. The for profit journals actually do provide a service of worth and note.
Beyond that, it is just the general time needed for society to adjust to a new way of thinking; people, scientists included, do not start questioning the status quo overnight.
The other science disciplines (mostly the life sciences), saw the AI/ML field greatly advance with their open research (e.g. arxiv, Github) and now want to copy it.
And yes, it was specifically AI/ML. Look at IEEE -- they're holding back the entire EE field. The ACM holds back the other areas of CS.
* Nobody can manipulate the reviews as everything is stored in Blockhcian.
* Nobody can start asking for money one day suddenly as the whole thing runs on a smart contract and once a smart contract is deployed there is no way to change the code.
* The articles are not stored or controlled by a central server.
I'm not sure I fully understand (or buy into) Blockchain, so forgive me for probing further on this, but: I'm still not sure how blockchain is helping here? Can't you get the same results by just publicly publishing the articles with an open license? That's kind of how things work right now in open-access journals (or with something like StackOverflow, for that matter) and it works fine, what is blockchain adding here? There are tons of copies of StackOverflow's data running around in mirrors, they are (or it's easy to do) hashed for a crypto signature, so you can't just change their text on people. No one can ask money for the answers because they are licenses CC.
So what is Blockchain adding to this? As I understand it, what blockchain provides is most importantly an incentive mechanism, to make people actually donate the PC time to store things (iiuc), but it seems to work fine in popular cases without having the incentive mechanism (e.g. StackOverflow), and I'm guessing if it isn't popular, then just cause it's on a blockchain doesn't change anything and no one will bother storing it?
But again, I'm not sure I understand what you're talking about, so I'd be more than happy to be corrected.
The other argument is modifying the text. I don't think dumps of data running around like that of StackOverFlow doesn't help much. Many sites have got heat for modifying the user comments or reviews in the past. The average person who is using a site is not going to go through the reviews and the dumps of data and see whether anything has been modified or not.
StackOverflow makes money by storing the questions and answers. Thats the incentive mechanism. Also none of the users gets a portion of the money that they helped them to make. I am not sure whether this is the greatest example. One can easily write a smart contract that will facilitate the transfer of money from writers to reviewers without the need of any central server. The amount of money the reviewer gets would be a function of their reputation. So it would be in the best interest of the reviewer to produce high quality work and high quality reviews. A far as the storage is concerned one can make use of Ethereum or a general purpose blockchain for building this. You would have to pay for the storage(reviews, ratings etc) only once and the nodes in the network would make sure that its their for ever. The research papers can be stored in IPFS due to their large size. The files can be seeded by anyone. If the research paper is popular it would be always available. If it is not popular the author or the university can still seed it as its in their best interest. I don't think it matters much where the PDF file is stored. It can be in a central server run by University as well. So this is not a big issue.
Does that makes any sense? Feel free to correct me as well :)
That said, let me address some of your points:
> In the current industry the authors are required to publish papers in the most reputed journal rights for maximum rewards [...] They can also theoratically censor the articles or authors that they don't like [...]
I agree with all of this, and would love for the system to change. But this is basically orthogonal to the blockchain - it only requires everyone to decide to give more prestige to whatever new entity replaces it, whether it runs on the blockchain or not. Furthermore, the blockchain does not fix any of the incentive problems by itself (again, unless you imagine something I'm missing here). Specifically, even if everything moves to the blockchain, if it ever loses prestige, then people won't want to publish there anymore, and we're back to square one. And the existence of new, open-access journals (and things like Arxiv) prove that you don't need the blockchain to solve this problem - it's completely an incentives/economic/etc problem, and the tech here is incidental.
> I don't think dumps of data running around like that of StackOverFlow doesn't help much. Many sites have got heat for modifying the user comments or reviews in the past. The average person who is using a site is not going to go through the reviews and the dumps of data and see whether anything has been modified or not.
Well, yes, but the average user isn't going to be downloading the entire blockchain, or running algs to make sure nothing was modified, either. But in fact you can find dumps of the Stack Overflow data, and they're probably hashed, so someone could always prove what was the original content, even if the "central entity" here (Stack Overflow itself) decides to one day try to censor something.
> StackOverflow makes money by storing the questions and answers. Thats the incentive mechanism.
Not, really? I mean, sure, they store things, but in terms of money, they make money by selling advertising, job listings, etc.
As I said before, the other stuff you wrote is a lot more interesting, but I'm not sure I'm getting it - who is paying money here, or another way to say it, how is money getting into the system? Right now, publishers make money, and afaik, the reviewers and the contributors mostly don't. I'd love to fix that too, but, how does the blockchain help to do that? And specifically, what does it do that I can't replace by building the equivalent of a Stack Overflow for publishing?
Blockchain's innovation is to allow a group to come to a consensus about a change that happened, that doesn't allow one person to later say "no no I meant something else". I.e. no double spending.
The arXiv (http://arxiv.org) has a good claim on allowing one to extend this "more free"ness to math and many of the physical sciences, too.
For more recent papers, however, I tend to go to arxiv first.
Taxpayer funded research should be open access, and this could be stipulated in the grant itself.
Also pretty sure many students gave away their passwords freely, based on that nobody seemed that surprised/worried when we said their accounts was compromised.
Ah yes danger to the profit motive. I would say the real danger is third party using other people's research to pocket billions and denying legitimate access of the research to millions and billions of people. That's extremely dangerous.
I see no problem in a profit motive. I see the problem that countries enforce censorship via violence (I am talking about copyright laws).
Papers upvoted by leaders in the field would carry as much weight as those published by any named journal.
Extremely prominent researchers and departments may be able to pull this off but everyone else in the trenches will be more or less committing career/department suicide by allowing this to happen.
Hopefully those who can stand up will but I wouldn't expect a sudden leap from the trenches until this situation changes.
I'll both agree and disagree. Starting with disagree:
A lot of these problems arose mostly in the last 20 years, and is somewhat dependent on the discipline. To give you an idea, someone getting an engineering PhD with, say, 3-5 papers published in peer reviewed (but average) journals had a good chance of getting a tenure track job as late as, say, 2005 - without doing any postdocs - no concerns about impact factors, etc. Most advisors were not slave drivers. Now if you switch to something like biology or physics, then it was much less likely and you needed a post doc. Still, if you went back another 20 years, you'd likely get a tenure track job straight out of a physics PhD.
For publishing, most academics never cared until the last 10 years or so. The cost of journals to universities did not explode until some point in the 2000's - so even less prestigious universities would subscribe to most journals an academic needed.
Once you got through tenure, it's hard to describe how you're treated as "shitty". You choose your hours. You choose if you want to get paid for summer or not. You choose what you want to work on. The pay is low, but it somewhat tracks that of industry (i.e. engineering professors still get paid more than humanities, etc). Having all that freedom should cost you in terms of pay. And just like in the real world, you can always get paid more if you do pretty good work in things that others care about (i.e. sacrifice your freedom somewhat).
Where I agree with you: In my experience, any group that insulates itself from the outside and uses only in-group metrics will eventually reach the stage they are in. If only they get to decide what makes one academic better than another, then you will get pettiness.
Nobody takes an academic job for the money.