LLLotW 2023.25

Ethical acquisitions in academic libraries: a simple idea without a simple solution

Peter Barr thinks out loud in this article about the inherent tensions of managing academic library collection budgets. Libraries have some power to redirect where funds go in academic publishing, but as Barr rightly says, this is a structural problem that requires collective action and a unity of purpose that is missing in the commercialised universities of our age.

Note: the insights.uksg.org site seems to be down at time of publication.

An invitation to a secret society

I greatly enjoy Adam Mastroianni's newsletter Experimental History, and the worldview he presents in it. In this piece, Mastroianni encourages readers to “do science” – run experiments and publish the results (somewhere, anywhere, probably not in an academic journal) regardless of whether they consider themselves or are considered by others to be a scientist, academic, or “Researcher”. In my place of work this would be highly controversial, which is part of the reason I love it. He's right – quite a bit of “real” published research is wrong, fraudulent, or just pointless. Broadening the range of people and places that can “do” and “publish” science makes the universe more knowable. If you've been using where something is published as a proxy for whether it's rigorous – well, that's not a problem with the science.

The store is for people, but the storefront is for robots

A really interesting look at the practical effects of both the rise of Google's monopoly web search, and the coming of LLM-powered generative SALAMI:

The internet looks the way it does largely to feed an ever-changing, opaque Google Search algorithm. Now, as the company itself builds AI search bots, the business as it stands is poised to eat itself.

If you find this intriguing, I'll take the opportunity to recommend one of the most illuminating books I've ever read: Finn Brunton's Spam: A shadow history of the internet

Libraries and Learning Links of the Week is published every Monday by Hugh Rundle.

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