Thursday, May 31, 2007

Setting it free

A link on David Weinberger's blog goes to an interesting article he wrote for the Harvard Business Review entitled If You Love Your Information, Set It Free. Yesterday, when I clicked on it, an interstitial something or other advised that one could quote up to 500 words of the article and no more. That bit of reintermediation doesn't seem to be there today, but if one searches for the article at the Review's site, one arrives at this:

It's unclear what exactly I am purchasing if I purchase copyright permission. Am I paying for the right to set David's article free? Am I under some limitation to be specified in the fine print of whatever I get when I buy permission?

What exactly is the institutional understanding at Harvard of the meaning of the work of someone like David, a Berkman Center fellow who has been an apostle for freeing information, whose latest book prophetically and proleptically sees it as inevitable?

What if I gave myself permission to cause the article to appear, say, here, without purchasing a download, a pdf, or copyright permission?

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Dissent does not dissent from marketing format

Democracy Now offered a worthwhile segment today of War Made Easy, Norman Solomon's dissection of USian war stupidity, over the last half-century.

The portions broadcast offered a range of strategic media manipulation, ranging from the explicit to the implicit (a new set design for the "war room" to make the Pentagoons look cool), etc.

It ought to be getting a little clearer to Harry Hummer and Suzie Sixpack that, across the mediascapes of radio, cable, newspapers, magazines, NASCAR events, Yellow Ribbon Magnet Manufacturers, War Marketeers of all stripes, etc., which are now their only eyes and ears, a scandal is constantly, nakedly recurring: the breaking of knowledge by power, the control of access to "intellectual property," that fake capitalist category, and the manipulation of phony psycho-public platforms as staging areas for simulations of critical assent.

So it was a bit dismaying to find so little shared substance of War Made Easy on the site created for it, which seems cast in the tired blurb 'n sell mold.

How come it hasn't been possible to put up a few clips from the documentary, a youtubation or two (where Solomon is already under attack), and a chapter from the book, a richer faq, etc. along with the pointers to where to buy the DVD?

the tres amigos.

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Palace of Wisdom not on US map


Our mission of disseminating knowledge is only half complete if the information is not made widely and readily available to society. New possibilities of knowledge dissemination not only through the classical form but also and increasingly through the open access paradigm via the Internet have to be supported. We define open access as a comprehensive source of human knowledge and cultural heritage that has been approved by the scientific community.

In order to realize the vision of a global and accessible representation of knowledge, the future Web has to be sustainable, interactive, and transparent. Content and software tools must be openly accessible and compatible.

Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities

Among the 232 organisations worldwide that have signed, only one claims a USian base of operations.

Much more here.

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Techné is the root of idolatry

I have colour television
Though it can't receive a thing

To say thousands of "American Idol'' fans were unhappy this week would be an understatement of the highest order. #.

the “Missing Links Golf Classic.” The Golf outing was held on Monday, April 30th at the Cardinal Club in Louisville, Kentucky. This was the 4th year for this bi-annual fundraising event for the Creation Museum put on by former PGA tour player, Ted Schulz.

We're three generations deep into being raised by television... #

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Calling Theseus

Frank Paynter: Why should we think that they, the JSTOR management, will be interested in tearing down the ivy covered walls when their stakeholders are the ones most interested in creating a distinction between “University” and non-academic culture? It remains for us, the interested parties, to find a way through the maze and a way to straighten out these crooked paths.

Via Stephen Francoeur: "Although Google Scholar is very useful for identifying the title, author, and other bibliographic information associated with an article, very often one cannot use Google Scholar to access the full text of an article. This is because Google Scholar's results page may point to articles in restricted databases that require a subscription or payment to access the full text.

"For each article returned with the Google Scholar results, OpenURL Referrer will add a link to your local library's database, as shown in the picture below. If your library has access to the article, the link will bring you to a page from which you can access the article. These links are similar to the "Institutional Access" links recently introduced by Google. However, OpenURL Referrer can produce links for any public or instututional library that supports OpenURL, not just the ones supported by Google."

AKMA: Were I not loath to compare my friend to a former B-movie actor, I might wish that Tom exhorted his interlocutor, “Mr. Heterick, tear down these firewalls!”

Maxine Clarke: Microsoft's scholarly search engine, Live Search Academic, has been available in a beta (trial) version for more than a year. Launched 18 months after Google Scholar, it has a lot of catching up to do in order to make researchers aware of it and want to use it in preference to other search services.

Update: I don't know exactly what to make of Al Gore, but I believe that the labyrinthine knot of reference is very much at the heart of what he's talking about here:
Gore taps James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, political theory, new technology, and cognitive and developmental psychology to blame the "withdrawal of reason from the public sphere" on profit-crazed disruptions of what should be the mutually reinforcing openness of free markets and democratic communication. Truthout

Friday, May 25, 2007

speed bumps

David Weinberger comments here on the preceding post about JSTOR. Meanwhile, having recently read Everything is Miscellaneous, I can't help but think of its relevance to JSTOR, and, conversely, to consider implications of the JSTOR-Y for David's argument/vision.

Toward the end of chapter 1, having described in some detail the Bettmann Archive and contrasted it with Corbis, and both their modes of organization with that of Flickr, David goes on to say:

We have entire industries and institutions built on the fact that the paper order severely limits how things can be organized. Museums, educational curricula, newspapers, the travel industry, and television schedules are all based on the assumption that in the second-order world, we need experts to go through information, ideas and knowledge and put them neatly away.

But now we -- the customers, the employees, anyone -- can route around the second order. We can confront the miscellaneous directly in all its unfulfilled glory. We can do it ourselves, and, more significantly, we can do it together, figuring out the arrangements that make sense for us now and the new arrangements that make sense a minute later. Not only can we find what we need faster, but traditional authorities cannot maintain themselves by insisting that we have to go to them.

"Isla: En Mi Carcel de Papel"

Two - uh, three - quick points:

1. The "paper order" of scholarly journals, thanks to the work of JSTOR, is subject to vast abbreviation. Instead of requiring duplicate tons of paper redundantly delivered to and stored in thousands of expensive buildings, one set, well cared for, or two, or at most a very, very few, are all that's required to meet the needs of a readership that, by virtue of the modality of that abbreviation, could now be expanded to include virtually everybody. This is a vast and stunning alteration of the first-order economy.

2. We have a Pisgah view of these journals thanks to Google's crawl. Without that algorithm spidering through 23 million pages, we would still be subject to the rule of paper.

3. We are still subject to the constraints of paper insofar as the business model of JSTOR has a ways to evolve before it can revolutionize its gatekeeping function to allow open access.

It seems that between the prisonhouse of paper and the unfettered bliss of what "we" can do with universal miscellaneity lie some bumps in the road: the event of Google, and the encrustations of first and second order economies, at the very least.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

A conversation with JSTOR's Bruce Heterick

I had a good conversation the other day with Bruce Heterick, Director, Library Relations, at JSTOR.

Some readers of IMproPRieTies may have noticed our recent interest in JSTOR, which mainly derived from (1) searching for certain topics in the Humanities and Social Sciences, (2) discovering with glee that interesting articles from scholarly journals are now online, (3) realizing with consternation that such articles lie behind an institutional barrier that blocks access to anyone not affiliated with a participating institution, and (4) registering puzzlement that anyone would take all sorts of pains to firewall knowledge -- knowledge mainly produced by scholars at not-for-profit institutions of higher learning devoted to bringing light into our world.

Heterick was generous with his time, and patient with my questions. The first thing to say is that the firewall was less an aim of the original design than a function of it -- i.e., they didn't create online access to valuable scholarly knowledge with the idea of enjoying being able to say "Nanni Nanni Boo Boo" to anyone lacking the requisite institutional handshake.

In fact, and here's the maybe-if-and-when good news, the presiding lights behind JSTOR are now looking at various ways and means to open its treasurehouse to all, because they understand that that makes all sorts of sense. They simply have to ensure that by doing so, they don't remove the parts of their economic model that have enabled them to build a self-sufficient, independent 501(c)3 organization in a relatively short time.

Let me back up and offer some of what Heterick shared with me about JSTOR (more background here and, in book form via here.)

The founding aim of JSTOR was less dissemination than preservation. The problem it was created to solve was the spiraling costs of library space required to house, redundantly, physical copies of hundreds of scholarly journals. William Bowen, a former president of Princeton, is credited with the idea of building a central archive that would preserve and curate complete sets of journals print editions, and become the basis for a digital archive libraries could access electronically.

The project began in 1995 with seed money from the Andrew Mellon Foundation with just a few titles, housing them in archives in California and at Harvard. Over time JSTOR has developed into an independent not-for-profit entity that currently holds some 900 titles (of which 725 or so are online, and the balance are somewhere on their way to digital existence) representing 23 million pages of content, 4 million full-length articles, spanning 47 academic disciplines. About 430 publishers participate in JSTOR currently; the strongest topic areas of the collection are in Economics and History.

The business model supporting JSTOR's evolution has worked like this: It invites publishers (primarily non-commercial, university presses) to participate, on the basis of various academic criteria. Any publisher who chooses to do so agrees that it will freely grant rights in perpetuity to all issues of the journal (1) going back to its first issue, and (2) going forward to a set time period prior to the current issue. Known as the "moving wall," this is a period anywhere from no time at all (in the case of one journal) to five years or more which the journal retains the rights, in case they have some economic value. So every year, a new year's worth of older issues automatically gets processed for and becomes part of JSTOR's permanent collection.

The publishers give their older content to JSTOR in part because they deem it to have little or no economic value. (Its epistemic value is another story.)

JSTOR scans the physical editions, and places the printed copies in its archives. The digital content is then grouped into one or more of 14 collections that JSTOR makes available to universities, research societies, government-funded agencies and other nonprofits on a subscription basis. A small research society might pay $300 annually for a narrow slice of the pie; large universities might subscribe to all the collections for several thousand dollars a year. Currently about 3,300 institutions participate, half in the US, half elsewhere, and about four-fifths of them are instititutions of higher learning.

With so much of its energy devoted to the muscle work of preservation, JSTOR has clearly prioritized its archival function. But it has along the way begun to look at the possibilities for more open access to its collections. Any qualifying institution in Africa can get access to its entire collection for free. There are special rates for high schools and an effort to get more public libraries to buy in.

Enter Google

Now, all this was taking place in the background, without much in the way of public notice, until last year, when JSTOR allowed Google to spider its online archives. Suddenly JSTOR articles began appearing high in people's google searches for all kinds of information, from Homer to Romantic Poetry to recent epistemology.

At which point, Heterick said, requests for JSTOR's online material "exploded." JSTOR found itself in the interesting position of letting it teasingly be known that it has an astonishing wealth of scholarship at the same time as it was saying to any unaffiliated researcher at its gate: "Not now."

JSTOR hadn't thought of offering a pay-per-view access before Google crawled its archive. Now, as of January, JSTOR has invited its publishers to make their titles available to unaffiliated researchers on a pay-per-view basis. Only about 150 titles are currently available, and the pricing is entirely at the publisher's discretion - which is not necessarily within most readers' reach (I've heard various prices per article: $35, $60 -- who do they think they are, the New York Times?).

JSTOR is looking at other ways to not simply emulate Kafka. In fact, says Heterick, it once did explore an individual access model, but ran into "difficulties" -- still, the goal of open access is very much on its mind.

“It’s not a question of if we should do it but when we can do it and not devolve our preservation goals,” he says. “Would people or libraries be willing to pay to maintain JSTOR and maintain its long term mission of archiving? We don’t know… .”

Would institutional libraries continue to pay the subscription fees if the journals were openly available to all? On one hand, why should they? Still, it's not impossible: after all, JSTOR is ensuring the immortality of the work of...scholars at these same universities. It's also saving the costs of continually adding space. Until recently, those running our institutions of higher learning might not have recognized that value, but, Heterick says, that seems to be changing. They now see that they can create new more attractive kinds of learning environments (Starbucks in the reading room?) instead of facing the dull chore of finding places to add stacks.

In short, it's not for a lack of a will to disseminate that so much scholarship remains behind the JSTOR firewall, and that's good news. It's a matter of finding the right economics. One possibility: instead of pay-per-view, users could pay for a slice of time -- a day, week, etc. of unlimited access.


I've heard from a few people who shared my interest in access to JSTOR and to other virtual closed stacks, including Project MUSE and BioOne (thanks to Frank Paynter for the latter).

Your turn: Thoughts on this? Suggestions for a more open business model? Philanthropists! Got a few million smackers to put it all right?

[Long overdue update: A follow-up to this discussion, here, contains two significant and deflating clarifications.]

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

urbanrubbish finally fulfills nominative promise

Something's wrong with my urbanrubbish email. It's gone from screening nothing to screening everything. Or something.

If you've recently -- in the past couple of weeks -- attempted to reach me via that address, and you're not a spammer, a bringer of larger members, a securer of Nigerian assets or singer of cheesy dreams, please redirect to my last name via gmail.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

doubtful energies

Captain Palmer of the “Iroquois,” who was a friend of the young man’s uncle, Sydney Brooks, took him with the officers of the ship to make an evening call on Garibaldi, whom they found in the Senate House towards sunset, at supper with his picturesque and piratic staff, in the full noise and color of the Palermo revolution. As a spectacle, it belonged to Rossini and the Italian opera, or to Alexandre Dumas at the least, but the spectacle was not its educational side. Garibaldi left the table, and, sitting down at the window, had a few words of talk with Captain Palmer and young Adams. At that moment, in the summer of 1860, Garibaldi was certainly the most serious of the doubtful energies in the world; the most essential to gauge rightly. Even then society was dividing between banker and anarchist. One or the other, Garibaldi must serve. Himself a typical anarchist, sure to overshadow Europe and alarm empires bigger than Naples, his success depended on his mind; his energy was beyond doubt.

Adams had the chance to look this sphinx in the eyes, and, for five minutes, to watch him like a wild animal, at the moment of his greatest achievement and most splendid action. One saw a quiet-featured, quiet-voiced man in a red flannel shirt; absolutely impervious; a type of which Adams knew nothing. Sympathetic it was, and one felt that it was simple; one suspected even that it might be childlike, but could form no guess of its intelligence. ...

The lesson of Garibaldi, as education, seemed to teach the extreme complexity of extreme simplicity; but one could have learned this from a glow-worm. One did not need the vivid recollection of the low-voiced, simple-mannered, seafaring captain of Genoese adventurers and Sicilian brigands, supping in the July heat and Sicilian dirt and revolutionary clamor, among the barricaded streets of insurgent Palermo, merely in order to remember that simplicity is complex. #

sweetnetz and light

“On television and through the Internet people are being seduced by the sweetness of illusion and the sweetness of dreams,” Mr. Kon continued. “It is necessary to have that relief, because without it life is too difficult. But I think the amount of fantasy that people are being fed through the media has become disproportionate. I believe in a balance between real life and imagination. Anime should not be just another means of escape.”

Friday, May 18, 2007

Bush league Gore

[Al]Gore's speech at the Kyoto Conference in 1997 was one of the most disgraceful pieces of international diplomacy I’ve ever come across. George Bush could have made that speech. It was just full of deliberate confusions and evasions and elisions about what needed to be done about climate change. George Monbiot.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Google ranking for dummies

Not dummies who use Google, but dummy results.

I was talking with a good friend about my perplexity about JSTOR -- which can be summarized as, "Why firewall human knowledge?" He noted that many times when he's doing a search, JSTOR-protected material shows up high in the rankings of relevant information. He clicks, only to be frustrated.

He wondered whether it might not make sense for Google to adjust its algorithm. I.e., if an article is within a protected wall of intellectual property controls, should that limitation upon access not somehow "register," perhaps for example by lowering the ranking? Otherwise we are faced with the prospect of Google itself becoming less useful, more just an opaque dummy, as it pulls up and ranks more and more data that most people can't access.

Google is less than Google when it returns unavailable data.

It looks like I'll have an opportunity to learn more about JSTOR next week, and look forward to it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

We'll always have Paris

To many of you coming here from Google's John Wiley Finance page, thanks for visiting, but I can't help you with why the stock is on fire just now. (Almost as hot as PH.)

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not Ru. Ron.

So hot Wikipedia disables itself.


Greenwald asks rhetorical question

if we passively allow the President to simply break the law with impunity in how the government spies on our conversations, what don't we allow? Greenwald via Digby

Well, for one, we don't allow anyone to say anything sensible without dumping a miscellaneous pile of human turds on him.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Not Weinberger's fault

When Zeuxis unveiled his painting of grapes, they appeared so luscious and inviting that birds flew down from the sky to peck at them. Zeuxis then asked Parrhasius to pull aside the curtain from his painting. When it was discovered that the curtain itself was painted on the surface -- the curtain was Parrhasius' painting, Zeuxis was forced to concede defeat. Wikipedia

Certain recent posts here at IMproPRieTies might seem rather random. What could Everything is Miscellaneous, JSTOR, the White House Press Corps and the Extraordinary and Plenipotent Roland E. Arnall possibly have in common? I'm not sure. All I know is, after reading David Weinberger's book, and writing a bit about it, a certain stimulus deriving from that reading seemed to propel me to "voice" certain, uh, reservations I've had about, among other things, the JSTOR Fortress of Knowledge.

Weinberger's take on miscellaneity is provocative. Even with Mr. Plenipotentiary Arnall - not that David in any directed way "caused" my interest in him - but when, in EiM, he speaks of shifting from an Aristotelian order of proper nomenclature, personhood and taxonomy to multiple, more open orders that are not so much contesting each others' claims but rather learning how to play well with each other, and to discover that knowledge resides between, not in, knowers, one of the first flags for me is the potential for fraud.

The space of fraud is the space between what something is said to be and what it "really is." Under an Aristotelian mode of knowing as representation, fraud is certainly possible -- and begins perhaps with the stories of Zeuxis, an artist Aristotle apparently did not care for, fooling the eye of the beholder -- but this falseness can be checked, unveiled, dis-covered through a penetrating effort of investigation (or by sheer chance); it can be seen to be other than the truth.

These considerations I think apply meaningfully to Journalism's failing to coincide with itself: News becomes news of the reception of the news of the reception of the... en abîme.

If everything is miscellaneous, it becomes ever so much more difficult to differentiate claims about some thing from the thing, because, per the argument, things per se, essences, no longer anchor the realm of signs. Metadata would appear to become increasingly difficult to distinguish from data - what is said about things replaces things with more of what is said about things: Reality dissolves into a welter of voices about reality, internet intercourse upends the stable epistemology of traditional discourse, rendering efforts to arrive at "truth" more problematic. Instead of a truth model of veil/unveil, we have -- no, in Weinberger's sense, we are becoming -- Parrhesian: all veil.

Obviously I'm still trying to figure out what David is saying, and why I'm finding what he's saying so provocative. While I wonder about these things, I'd be curious to hear whether other readers of the book find themselves provoked into vocalizing a bit more than usual.

And lest I forget, there's an interesting looking article about Aristotle and the Painters by Graham Zanker. Would have loved to have read it, but it's inside the anal crevass of JSTOR.

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Don't get caught in the loo without it

So many of you to thank for keeping me hot!

Danielle S. Allen

Dean of the Division of the Humanities
University of Chicago

Henry S. Bienen

Northwestern University

William G. Bowen

Senior Research Associate/President Emeritus
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Laura N. Brown

Former President
Oxford University Press

Nancy M. Cline

Roy E. Larsen Librarian
Harvard College

Ira H. Fuchs

Vice President for Research in Information Technology
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Kevin M. Guthrie

Chairman, JSTOR Board of Trustees

Mary Patterson McPherson

Vice President
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Michele Tolela Myers

Sarah Lawrence College

W. Taylor Reveley, III

Dean, The Marshall-Wythe School of Law
The College of William and Mary

Judith Shapiro

Barnard College

Michael Spinella

Executive Director

Stephen M. Stigler

Ernest DeWitt Burton Distinguished Service Professor in Statistics
University of Chicago

Herbert S. Winokur, Jr.

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Capricorn Holdings, Inc.

Trustees Emeriti

Richard De Gennaro

Founding Trustee Emeritus, JSTOR
Roy E. Larsen Librarian, Emeritus
Harvard College

Charles R. Ellis

Founding Trustee Emeritus, JSTOR
Senior Advisor, Former President and Chief Executive Officer
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Richard C. Levin

Trustee Emeritus, JSTOR
Yale University

Cathleen Morawetz

Founding Trustee Emeritus, JSTOR
Professor Emeritus
New York University

Dr. James Carmichael Renick

Founding Trustee Emeritus, JSTOR
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
Greensboro, NC

Gilbert R. Whitaker, Jr.

Founding Trustee Emeritus, JSTOR
Dean and Professor of Business Economics
Rice University

R. Elton White

Founding Trustee Emeritus, JSTOR
Former President
NCR Corporation

JSTOR: Guarding the Back Door to the Palace of Wisdom since August, 1995, with an able assist from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. 2004 990-PF.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

A Picturebook Ameriqan Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, Roland E. Arnall headed a boiler room subprime lending enterprise that made Enron look like Doctors Without Borders, according to a killer report by NPR's Chris Arnold.

In July, 2005, Arnall was nominated by George W. Bush to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of Ameriquestia to the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

On which day it was already quite well documented that his company, Ameriquest, was under investigation in 30 states for Extraordinary and Plenipotential Predatory Lending practices.

Some congresspeople apparently had reservations about the presidential wisdom of making an Ambassador out of a man whose trainers, according to Arnold's report, used the film Boiler Room to educate salespeople in the finest points of how to rip off financially strapped homebuyers.

Ameriquest's success (billions of dollars of refinanced loans) was built on a "culture of deception," a former loan officer tells Arnold, who spoke with four ex-employees of Ameriquest. These folks describe straight-up fraud techniques, loans that were essentially financial time bombs. Some loan officers allegedly whited-out income numbers on W-2s and bank statements, enhancing income figures to qualify loan applicants for loans they couldn't afford. This was called taking the loan to the art department.

Vin Diesel shows Ameriquest trainees the ropes.

But Ambassador Arnall hadn't emulated the Ken Lay Action Figure in vain:
Along with his wife, Dawn, Arnall was listed as a Bush Ranger for the 2004 campaign, and the Washington Post reports that the couple has raised at least $12.25 million for the president since 2002, making the couple the president’s single largest fundraisers.

In the ensuing $325 million Settlement with 49 states' Attorneys General, Ameriquest admitted no wrongdoing.
"This agreement is good for consumers and good for the company," the company said in a written statement.

The active citizen and philanthropist had the joy of presenting his creds to Her Majesty Queen Beatrix on March 8th, 2006.

And the company lived happily ever after.

Update: Phil unearths predatory philanthropists. And Mark Winston Griffith on the Myth of the Risky Sub-Prime Borrower.

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

the eternal night of Alain Badiou

So the future of philosophy is, like its past, a creative repetition. We must endure our thoughts all night, forever, in JSTOR.

... via

Alain Badiou.

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sez, "I wouldn't even know how to spell "cunnilingus" if it wasn't for

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I'm no pedant

When I take my Kultur Warrior Test

I want to be fair.

I want to be balanced.

I want to be accurate:

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what he said

Obscenity on the web

JSTOR Home Skip to Main Content

Search JournalsBrowse JournalsTipsSet PreferencesAbout JSTORContact JSTOR

Mission and Goals

In the broadest sense, JSTOR's mission is to help the scholarly community take advantage of advances in information technologies. In pursuing this mission, JSTOR has adopted a system-wide perspective, taking into account the sometimes conflicting needs of libraries, publishers, and scholars.

JSTOR's goals include the following:
  • To build a reliable and comprehensive archive of important scholarly journal literature
  • To improve dramatically access to these journals
  • To help fill gaps in existing library collections of journal backfiles
  • To address preservation issues such as mutilated pages and long-term deterioration of paper copy
  • To reduce long-term capital and operating costs of libraries associated with the storage and care of journal collections
  • To assist scholarly associations and publishers in making the transition to electronic modes of publication
  • To study the impact of providing electronic access on the use of these scholarly materials
I'd love to know how they accomplish this last goal, given that their actual mission appears to be to protect the pulp, print and lumber industries by ensuring that no scintillae of intellect ever escape the JSTOR lockdown. And they split infinitives.

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