Friday, January 23, 2009

on Google Scholar and 'electricity sucking mosques'

Came across this post by Paul Kedrosky on "Google Scholar Suckitude." He's a financial commentator with a popular blog. It's interesting to read an outsider's perspective on the scholarly information ecosystem. Kedrosky is frustrated by a few things about Google Scholar. From the comments:
But I also find it messes up dates all the time, with recent papers too hard to find. And I'm unimpressed with its authoritativeness measures, with many quack pieces from quack journals making it through the cracks.

More broadly, I'd like it to tell me more clearly if there is a PDF somewhere. Perhaps back-index from authors/paper to author websites and look for the original paper there. Too often I find the piece referenced, and then have to do a second set of searches to find the author's website where there is often a working paper available. That shouldn't be required.
Funny that I was just admiring the addition of the Google Scholar feature that attempts to locate a free copy of a journal article online if available. Another comment on the post argues that academic libraries have shifted from being information disseminators to information gatekeepers:

The facilitation of easily accessible information, such as the good dope contained in publicly funded research, grants and other knowledge-transmitters, the stuff that's found in academic journals and other walled-enlightenment-gardens; in yesteryear fell in the domain and function of the "library".

However, in recent history, the library's role has changed. 180 degrees. Their actions are similar to them RIAA , only in some ways, much darker: their role as spreader-of-our-knowledge-treasures has petrified into the ghostly statuesque remnant that serves as a fortress of knowledge bigotry requiring secret user identifications and passwords.

The library system in America is 1000 times worse than theRIAA .

The Ivy-Leagued elites and celebrities have no problem gathering information. I'm sure that there have been many times when you've bumped into something like the JSTOR hurdle, only to have a colleague or well-intentioned ivy-league aristocrat quietly email you the journal, article or tidbit of enlightenment that you were seeking.

It's not that way for us ignoramus masses. We've got to unGREENy burn oil, use or gas hog cars, travel to the gigantically inefficient electricity sucking mosques that houses the remnants of old, vermin infested and inked-ladened dead tree parchments -- the method of infomatics-gathering used by our candle-burning-horse-and-buggy ancestors.

It's a system structure benefits the Ivy Leagues. They have the access. They have the secret keys, passwords and easy pathways to the knowledge chambers. To withhold the public's golden knowledge, to keep the masses enslaved to illiteracy and darkness -- isn't it unconscionable?


Lorcan Dempsey said...

I reckon Notebulb is a librarian ;-)

Bryan's workshop blog said...

I wonder how many traditional-age students hit campus with Google Scholar experience.