Category Archives: Academia

Academic Funding, a Atlas-Sized Matter?

This is a republishing of an article I wrote for the Strange Bedfellows project.  The original url is here.

“Money is the root of all evil,” said James Taggart. “Money can’t buy happiness.  Love will conquer any barrier and any social distance.  That may be a bromide, boys, but that’s how I feel.” [1]

I have been reading Ayn Rand’s book, Atlas Shrugged, and it has really made me think about academia in relation to the Internet.  Publications of academic scholarship have historically been reserved for libraries, private collections, and academia itself.  Little of it makes its way into mainstream life.  Conversely, the Internet is the great equalizer.  It makes anything and everything known to anyone, anywhere.  An important facet of the Internet is that it is free: free to access, free to publish in, free to use however you see fit.  This is almost a complete reversal of the situation in academia where knowledge was limited by cost, space, and physical deterioration.  As more and more scholarship becomes available online, there has been a push for institutions like libraries to subscribe to services like online journals, periodicals, and article databases.  But there has also been a rising trend for making academic scholarship open source.  This kind of social contract is based upon the value of knowledge and the knowledge that it ought to be accessible by all people who are interested.  However, as funding in higher education becomes more and more scarce, is there a moral code governing whether or not one can earn money from academic scholarship?

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