Sunday, September 02, 2007

Jouissance de JSTOR


I think what I find most hilarious in the JSTOR project is the mutually assured destruction at the base of both its mission and its business model.

  • If the mission is to preserve and perpetuate the archives of human understanding in the form of scholarly journals,
  • And the business model is to preserve and perpetuate monies due upon accessing aforesaid scholarly journals,

Then to present us with pages like this is to manage at one and the same time to ensure that
  1. no transmission of human knowledge occurs, and that
  2. the possibility of even buying said knowledge is put out of reach of all but those who belong to a payor institutional subscriber.
Bottom line: Mr. Vettori's review of Mr. Hollander's $55 book about a single letter allegedly by Dante Alighieri remains a closed book. Ignorance, except for a happy very few, is assured; no money changes hands. Just one more blissful adventure in the psychosis of capital blindness.

Happy Labor Day, JSTOR.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Scruggs said...

I am extremely slow on the iconographic uptake. So I breezed by the illuminated calligraphy of the JSTOR logo. Those pitiful, clositered business monks, squatting on their piles of treasured texts, snarling at the people who have the temerity to break the magic by trying to make them available.

9/02/2007 4:52 PM  
Anonymous tom said...

I've not heard them snarl, tho that might be what's going on behind the archival lock and key. Partly, it's the superannuated middleman syndrome: they created a means to ensure the perpetuation of atomic archives in the dawn of digital age. Then, Google made their hoard public. They haven't quite figured out what to do about that.

9/03/2007 9:24 AM  
Blogger Scruggs said...

They could ask Google to remove it from the search results. Google has done that for others, right up to deleting the cached pages. At least that way they wouldn't be clogging search arteries. As it is, they're using Google for what amounts to an advertizing teaser.

I envisioned a genteel sort of snarling, with a delicate and measured curl to the lip and a growl that spoke of a desire to be thought moderate.

9/03/2007 2:41 PM  
Anonymous tom said...

They were the ones who originally agreed to let Google spider them. It seems to me Google might have thought harder about spidering to make public a closed archive that offers dead-end teasers. If only because it cheapens Google. I.e., if it's algorithm finds that a particular article, say Mr. Vettori's, is the most sought after review of the Hollander book (perhaps because it's one of very few), we are sure to click on it. But what it yields is simply awareness that the article exists. Could there be a way that Google could factor blind objecthood into its algorithm? That way, if we're looking for actual sources, as opposed to dead ends, we could have a setting that would simply eliminate such detritus from our searches.

NB I'm not saying I'd like this better. I'm glad to know Mr. Vettori's review exists, etc. I think Google needs to think more about IP and JSTOR needs to think more about how absurd it is to be turning up in countless searches only to disappoint.

9/03/2007 3:58 PM  

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