Academic publishing and privacy = oh my!

I love reading The Scholarly Kitchen. It really is one of the most interesting things on the internet right now. While being extremely dense, the content is so relevant it feels like it was written next year.

This riveting post, ‘Elsevier has deployed an end-user tracking tool for security. Should users be concerned about their privacy?’ by Todd Carpenter, Executive Director of the National Information Standards Organization (NISO), is really important. There’s so much going on in academic publishing right now, most notably the battle raging between open access and subscription content. I am not sufficiently informed to have a firm opinion yet, but this post flags another problem with the lucrative model we have accepted for so long.

I’ll quote the conclusion here:

“One of the problems we all have in choosing online services, be it online security, email provision, or where we choose to watch our next movie, is understanding the full scope of the business that the service provider is engaged in. In this digital environment, it oftentimes isn’t simply getting you to watch the movie or providing you email. The real reason for providing email service could be to train machine learning, or craft advertising, or it could be in selling your behavioral data to someone else. We all need to better understand what the core business of our partners are. You might not be the one getting the service, rather you might be the service for someone else.”

Write everything down

Write everything down as far as you can see, if you can. Write about your own life and your loved ones.

If only someone had written down the events leading to Roy Albert Wheaton’s death in Palestine, World War I, 1917. But nobody did. It is heartbreaking to read his mother’s beautiful handwriting begging for more information about his death. The only clues are in the medical records: “GSW (gunshot wound) chest” and “died of injuries”. He received a medal for his bravery in war, the instance when he saved someone from drowning.

I have been thinking about Mary Wheaton, his mother, and hope she found peace. She was already widowed, and died within a few years after she lost her son. May their memories be eternal. I am grateful that Australia keeps war records so that we can remember those we lost.