AAA director condemns really stupid business models.

It’s administration-bashing week here at SM. I just posted an unconscionably long comment (in the age of Twitter anyways…) at the AAA blog, where Bill Davis has recently and magnanimously agreed to re-publish his September Anthropology News article on “Free Journal Access as a Public Issue”. The thrust of the piece seems to be that, after extensive secret analysis, the AAA staff have confirmed that charging anthropologists $5564 a piece to publish in an AAA journal is a Really Bad Idea. Bang-up job boys, keep up the good work!

a) it’s called open access, not free access. Please stop.

b) who was it that suggested the AAA should move to an author pays model? Can you please say who suggested this, because it is a really bad idea. A point we apparently agree on.

c) can you please focus on the problem: the AAA faces a severe funding crisis. RE-EVALUATE EVERYTHING NOW. Stop trying to fund the AAA by selling journals and figure out how to fund the AAA. I wish I could be clearer. Maybe it is my English that is the problem?

update: I originally wrote AAA President… when I meant Executive Director. Clearly evidence of fundamental confusion on my part, and not a Freudian slip indicating something about the nature of real power in the organization. I have no idea how Virginia Dominguez feels about stupid business models, but I sure hopes she agrees with Bill Davis and me.


Christopher M. Kelty is a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. He has a joint appointment in the Institute for Society and Genetics, the department of Information Studies and the Department of Anthropology. His research focuses on the cultural significance of information technology, especially in science and engineering. He is the author most recently of Two Bits: The Cultural Significance of Free Software (Duke University Press, 2008), as well as numerous articles on open source and free software, including its impact on education, nanotechnology, the life sciences, and issues of peer review and research process in the sciences and in the humanities.

4 thoughts on “AAA director condemns really stupid business models.

  1. This was a wickedly funny response! I have no personal knowledge of the AAA-debate, though it seems identical to every other discussion going on everywhere.
    I think we are experiencing a true cognitive dissonance… ^_^

  2. Pingback: Blog Interviewer
  3. I read your comment over at the AAA blog. Well said. I was dumb founded when i was reading the original post by the AAA director. Thought my eyes werent working properly.

  4. Pingback: Blog Interviewer
  5. If my assumption that the $5564 per-article cost for publication in an AAA journal is largely because the AAA supports itself through journal articles is correct, the AAA clearly needs to find another way of financing its own existence.

    Maybe it could support itself with dues and contributions from organizations and businesses which benefit from its existence, much like other professional associations.

    If heavily pay-walled content is the only way for the association to exist, perhaps its time for the AAA to be replaced by an organization that is capable of doing what the AAA does in a more cost efficient manner.

  6. @ Justin – If the association was run that way then how would our glorious director keep his 6-figure salary?

Comments are closed.