OSTP vs. ACM
As part of President Obama’s Open Government Initiative, the Office of Science & Technology Policy is asking for feedback from the public about public access to the results of federally funded research. Unfortunately, the ACM (an organization I give a lot of money to each year) is resisting.
The world wide web was started as an easy way for researchers to freely share results. In the early days of the web, it was great. For a short time, you could find almost any recent computer graphics paper. I didn’t have to depend quite so heavily on giant filing cabinets of Xeroxes which I had swapped with friends and coworkers.
Now more and more of these papers are behind the ACM firewall. For example, here’s one I wrote. Try clicking that PDF link. Did you pay the ACM $99 this year? No? Well then that link doesn’t work, does it? This isn’t benefiting researchers and it isn’t benefiting me. It is only benefiting the ACM. I understand that the ACM needs a source of revenue, but that shouldn’t be a higher priority for them than helping researchers share their work.
Naty Hoffman has a nice writeup on this issue. As he says,
The ACM has no legitimate needs or interests other than those of its members!
As a member, I do not feel that their stance on this subject is serving my interests. Please, OSTP, do not use the ACM as a model for other fields of research.