Brian Holmes on Sat, 30 Jul 2011 14:00:11 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> some more nuanced thoughts on publishing, editing, reading, using

On 07/28/2011 06:17 PM, McLaughlin, Lisa M. Dr. wrote:

The problem is that academe and for-profit publishers
can put editors, authors, and even reviewers in a position of having to
participate in "delivering" scholarship in a way that is behind the times.
And, related to this, there is the problem of universities' pushing
publication in the corporation Thompson-Reuters' ISI approved journals,
where there is an extreme bias against online open access journals (among
other things, such as certain fields of study).

As in the rest of our society, change is so difficult... Reminds me of last year when I went to California for the University of California protests and came back with two words in my head: "total corruption." It turns out that UC, the premier public education system of the US, has become a pyramid of privatized interests, at whose apex you find six-figure humanities professors, scientists with fat lab grants for military programs, administrators treated like star CEOs (and treating everyone else like "human resources"), corporations like BP buying out entire research sectors, and finally, billionaire "regents" like Richard Blum, the construction magnate and husband of longtime California senator Dianne Fienstein (which shows that the corruption really is total, going to the top of the political system). On the bottom of the pyramid are students getting bled for loans, adjuncts doing the majority of the teaching, and as far as the eye can see, casual and undocumented labor doing the clean-up for both the debt-slaves and the luxury class. Actually it's hard to say it's even a pyramid: the middle is largely illusory.

The interesting thing is that in both the UK and the US - not mention the rest of Europe at this point - we are living in economically imploding societies. Maybe under such conditions some basic elements of the system could change? My aim for this year is to set up an autonomous seminar in Chicago (using aaaaarg as a repository of materials) in order to explore the effects of previous large-scale economic crises, particularly the effects on class structure and the forms of cultural hegemony. The goal to grasp at least the magnitude of possible change over the upcoming decade. Of course, history will be no guide, as all indications are that ecological and geopolitical factors will make this crisis very different from the last two. Nonetheless, history can show us some of the parameters to look for in the present:

The fact that this is an autonomous, self-organized seminar betrays my conviction that the university lacks an outside, or to put it another way, that critical thinking needs to articulate itself beyond the nexus of professional obligations that Lisa describes. But this proposal is not simply antagonistic. The point of (re)establishing an external locus of critique is to help transform the inside, to build both pressure and desire for new forms of education and intellectual activity. Institutional change is fundamentally necessary. Only a critical university system could provide the capacities to steer the knowledge society, or what's more aptly called cognitive capitalism. Gary's subversive proposals and open-access activism are great, it's excellent to hear about. So are the other open-acesss initiatives that have been discussed here. Florian's idea of pursuing the conversation in an OA journal is perfect. All of this could come to something!

best, Brian Holmes, PhD and blah blah blah....

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