tribute to Aaron Swartz

The best tribute to Aaron Swartz

For me, the issue of open access to publicly funded research is clear cut.
If anyone accepts public money for any aspect of their research, then the results need to be in the public domain, freely available immediately. In all other cases there should be quite rapid expiry of copyright and patents, no more than 15 years max, and usually around 5 years. If people can’t get a market return in that time, it isn’t going to happen.
Scholarly journals need to stand or fall on the services they supply to their readers (including editorial work, peer review, timeliness of delivery, relevance, etc). The power taken from the public, and given to journals through the current interpretations of copyright law, are, to my mind, without any shadow of doubt, an abuse of power resulting from market values.

3 years ago, when I was told I likely had less than 5 months to live because of metastasised melanoma, I spent many days scouring for information. Much of what I wanted to read was hidden behind $30 a time pay per view firewalls, and all of it was funded with public money.
I refused to pay.
I got enough information from free sources to work out an effective survival strategy (in the face of medical advice saying that no such thing was available).

I have since spent a lot of time investigating the nature of the incentive structures within our society that create such perverse outcomes for the majority of people, and I am now very clear that it is markets, and market valuation mechanisms (aka money) that are actually the single greatest threat to human survival at present.

All monetary systems (market based valuation systems) are scarcity based. The more scarce something is, the more valuable it is; and conversely the more abundant something is the less it is worth. This is completely contrary to the human need for abundance of basic survival commodities.

We have the technical ability to deliver such abundance of basic needs to every human (including information, knowledge and wisdom), but there is zero incentive within any economic system to do so (in fact significant incentives not to do so).

Thus Aaron’s death is something of a wake up call to many of us.
I only met him once, and I liked him very much.
I am greatly saddened by his death.

It is time for a concerted effort to move a majority of humanity beyond the paradigm of markets and market valuation.
It is time to reclaim the legal system to the public domain, and away from the market.
It is time to bring human values back to the law.
It is unlikely to be a smooth journey!

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see www.tedhowardnz.com/money
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