Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Op-Ed: We Need More Aaron Swartz-Style Hacktivism

Copyright © 2013 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.


This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan.
And now the Opinion Page. The release of millions of academic papers by Internet activist Aaron Swartz raised many questions about how much access the public should have to scholarship, questions that took on new dimensions after his suicide. At the time of his death, Swartz faced federal charges of wire fraud and violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

In The Chronicle of Higher Education, Peter Ludlow argues Aaron Swartz was right, not only justified in his act of civil disobedience, but morally impelled to act. We want to hear from those of you in academic publishing, what's the legacy of Aaron Swartz? 800-989-8255. Email: You can also join the conversation on our website. That's at, click on TALK OF THE NATION.
Peter Ludlow is a professor of philosophy in Northwestern University. His commentary "Aaron Swartz Was Right" ran in The Chronicle of Higher Ed on February 25. He joins us now from member station WBEZ in Chicago. Good to have you with us today.

PETER LUDLOW: Hi. Good afternoon.

CONAN: And you write that the consensus, so far, is that Swartz did something wrong. And, well, he himself called it an act of civil disobedience. Don't people who commit act of civil disobedience expect some - well, there are some risks associated with that.

LUDLOW: There certainly are. When you commit an act of civil disobedience, you're doing something that is technically against the law, but you believe it's the right thing to do. For example, Rosa Parks knew that it was against the law to sit in the front of the bus, but she did so anyway. And that's basically the structure of acts of civil disobedience.

CONAN: Yet, you accept that there's a possibility you could end up facing charges for this.

LUDLOW: You certainly do.

CONAN: And the civil act that he committed, you say, was justified by the, well, peculiar structure of academic publishing.

LUDLOW: Yeah. There are actually two things going on here. One is the issue of academic publishing, the structure of it and how knowledge is locked up by academic publishers. And then there's another thing which you're somewhat alluding to earlier when you talk about, you know, he should have expected some sort of punishment for what he did. And that other thing goes to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which lays out these draconian penalties for unauthorized access of a computer system. And so there are really two things going on in all of this. One has to do with the story about academic publishing, and the other thing has to do with this Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and both are incredibly serious issues.

CONAN: Well, let us start with the academic publishing issue then, first. And...

LUDLOW: Sounds fair.

CONAN: All right. And your argument, essentially, that this has been stood on its head, a system that was designed to disseminate information instead bottles it up.

LUDLOW: That's exactly right. If you think about what academic publishers used to do is that they could provide a service that nobody else could provide. That is, they could produce information. They could typeset papers, scientific papers, mathematical papers, and so forth, in a way that nobody else really could do because, you know, a century ago, we're writing these things, you know, with pencil or pen. And they could not only typeset them, but they could publish the - and they could distribute them. And so it played this really invaluable service of taking information that otherwise might just be circulated among a very small group, and distribute it worldwide.
But now, it's performing exactly the opposite function. Instead of helping us to distribute information, it's using a certain kind of rights that it's acquired. And it's using that to bottle up information and demand for fees for that information when there are much more efficient ways to distribute information and academic publishing - academic ideas these days.

CONAN: Well, one of the problems you cite is that very few papers actually do get published, five percent you estimate.

LUDLOW: Well, that's - if you would take a particular top-level philosophy journal, their acceptance rate is around five percent. So presumably, those papers get published elsewhere, but perhaps not a journal that's as prestigious.
And the problem is that if you're a junior professor somewhere, let's say you're a junior professor in philosophy, you need to publish or perish. That means you don't have tenure yet. You're going to need to show up with, you know, six, seven, eight, maybe 10 solid publications in order to get tenure, or you're out the door. And you submit your papers to these journals.
They have a 5 percent acceptance rate and they are not - they are going to, basically, have you sign over the right to that publication. That is, a junior professor is going to be at a very unfair bargaining position, where they're going to give up the rights to their own intellectual product to this publishing company simply because, you know, they're in an impossible situation. They have to publish. They don't have many opportunities, and the publishing company holds all the power.

CONAN: So they've got 'em over a barrel and, of course, they're going to, given those stakes, sign away their right.

LUDLOW: Sure. I mean, I did it when I was young.

LUDLOW: I needed, I needed tenure. I signed away my rights. And I think for most publications and most fields in academia, the scholars do end up signing away their rights.
CONAN: And then you have the situation then to get access to those papers, subsequently, those publishers demand fees, and this is often for research that's been funded by, well, federal money.

LUDLOW: It could be funded by the NEH or the NSF. It might be funded by your tuition dollars or by state - money that a state contributes to the state university. And often, the research is the product of public funding. But the public doesn't have access to that information unless it finds some route to it by being a student in a university or professor in the university or via some other, not necessarily so obvious, route of access to the information.

CONAN: Now, there are various regulations, laws, written to protect, effectively, monopoly of these publishers.  READ MORE

NOAA: Stop Georgia Aquarium from importing wild beluga whales for captivity

The Georgia Aquarium has applied for a permit to import 18 beluga whales into the U.S. where they will be in captivity at various aquariums and zoological parks throughout the country.

These whales taken from the Sea of Okhotsk in eastern Russia, have been removed from their pod and their natural habitat. Beluga whales are highly social animals who live in large pods and form strong bonds especially between mothers and calves.

The Georgia Aquarium claims this is a "conservation" effort, however, these whales will likely never be released back into the ocean. Many may die at an early age due to the stress of captivity, and
Georgia Aquarium's infant beluga whale died just days after being born in May.

Please help stop plans to send more beluga whales far from their ocean home to barren, concrete tanks in aquariums and zoological parks. These belugas should be released back into their ocean home, please give them back their freedom!

Irrefutable Evidence About 9/11 And Coincidences" in forum "Latest News".

DickMcManus has just posted a new topic entitled "Irrefutable Evidence About 9/11 And Coincidences" in forum "Latest News":
I want to think the Pilots for 9/11 Truth for all your hard work in getting at the truth.  I will be the first to say after years of reading about 9/11, I have my own best guesses as to what happened.  That said, my goal is for a new public Congressional investigation.   Many 9/11 truthers do not trust our federal govenment to investigation itself, but I remind them that the Church Committee hearings/investigation did uncover crimes of the CIA.   Of course, it did not go public with much more that we now know crimes the CIA or the Shadow CIA was doing.  

I have started passing around a petition to my friends and fellow local Democrats.   My hope is that as more and more people add their names, it will force my public officials out of being politically correct and developing some backbone.   We have a meetup group here in Seattle and we are not giving up.  I for one will not give up until I die.  

Here is the best lecture about why we need a new investigation of the events connected to the mass murder on 9/11. (

and see part seven of Dr. Jones’ lecture on this subject of nano-thermate (

911 Dr Steven E. Jones - Science and Society - as of Apr 22, 2011 ( ( ( ( ( ( ( (

Dick Cheney put a lot of pressure on BYU to force them to shut up Dr. Steven Jones and he was put on administrative leave for publishing his research about nano-thermate from the WTC dust. In April of 2009, he and his colleagues publish a research paper in the Open Chemical Physics Journal of their experiments. BYU promoted Dr. Jones to Emeritus Professor, yet as he was forced into early retirement in January 2007. This action hurt him and his family financially.

Architect Ron Avery explains why explosives collapsed the Twin Tower (

See photo at: (
Mark Basile Chemical Engineer (
NIST’s lead investigator Shyam Sunder and John Gross lead engineer of 9/11 lies about melted steel ( (

Irrefutable evidence about 9/11 and coincidences that are too good to be true Parts 1 to 4 ( ( ( (

You have to listen to William Rodriguez a second time, because it is hard for him to explain all of what he experienced that day. This is because he has experienced a very tramatic event and he just barely escaped getting killed
part one (
part two (
part three (
part four (
part five (

Explosion within WTC 7 before both of the Twin Towers collapsed. (

Michael Hess yelling for help from the eight floor of WTC 7. (

9/11 - More evidence of two or more explosions at the Pentagon in addition to no 757 crashing into it. (

How hard was it to fly into the Pentagon with a 757 at 20 feet above the ground? -impossible (

Barbara Honegger’s lecture about the Pentagon (part 1 and 2) ( part 2 (
How Turkish drug trafficking is related to 911   parts 1 to 3 ( ( (

A new poll shows 25 percent of Americans believe that the government knew about 9/11 in advance and 36 percent of Democrats.
as of January 17, 2013: Fairleigh Dickinson University poll (

Join our 9/11 Truth Seattle meetup group at
I want start a south Everett group using this MEETUP website I moderate. (

“9/11 Truthers Demand a New Investigation”  (where I post my research) (

Join our facebook 9/11 Truth Community
our mission is demanding a new Congressional investigation or a grand jury investigation into the events connected to the mass murder on 9/11   a Seattle group trying to coordinate with all 9/11 groups in the US and the world.!/groups/134985036652870/ (!...34985036652870/)

The 20-member 9/11 Consensus Panel (

Sign our petition on the Petition2Congress website at 
168 letter sent so far (

All the judges, public officials, and political Party candidates are COWARDs for not prosecuting Bush et. al. for war crimes.

The Bush Administration guilty of 269 War Crimes (

Prosecute Bush for War Crimes (

Join the National Religious Campaign Against Torture ( 

News and Views You Don't Have to Lose   (my news letter) (

check out my online book - a work in progress: (
and learn about the crimes of the CIA and US war crimes, Department of Justice- cover-up of drug trafficking, etc. 

Dick McManus 
Chief Warrant Officer/counterintelligence special agent, US Army, and combat paramedic, Vietnam, retired.    I am running for WA State Senate for the 21st LD and/or Congress, 2nd CD-WA in 2014 
Democrat, Everett/ WA (

Where I stand on all the issues (


The topic can be found here: