Jan 16, 2013

Aaron Swartz

When I started field work the Colombian Amazon an indigenous leader told me that they were not happy with me doing research there, because they had had many researchers interviewing people and at the end their results were published somewhere else (may be in JSTOR) and the community usually did not see or benefit from the results. I ended up doing what he said other researchers had done. 

I am sure some researchers think about these things and work so that their research findings go back to communities. But generally speaking the indigenous leader was into something. Academic articles like any creation are standing on the shoulders of giants, scientist benefit not only from other scientists' work, but also from the knowledge which people share with the researcher, or may be from statistics that were put together with public funding. If scientists, or publishing companies, were to pay these costs probably the amount of articles in places like JSTOR will be much less. Is this unfair? It probably is, and probably Aaron Swartz understood that well. 

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