‘Reassembling Scholarly Communications’

Jonathan Gray, announcing his new collection, co-edited with Martin Eve:

MIT Press have recently published a new book on Reassembling Scholarly Communications: Histories, Infrastructures, and Global Politics of Open Access edited by Martin Eve and myself. […] My chapter, “Infrastructural Experiments and the Politics of Open Access” examines how scholarly communication infrastructures may be taken as both an object of research and a site of experimentation to explore questions of who has access, what counts, what matters, and how relations are organised.

I can’t wait to dig into the whole book, which is (of course) available OA.

SPARC Copyright Policy Report

From the press release on the just-released SPARC Europe report copyright and licensing policy [pdf]:

Clear from this study: the majority of publishers have yet to embark on a more OA friendly policy journey, though some are making preparations. “If these publishers choose to continue on their current course, their authors will continue to find complying with OA policy requirements problematic — unless funders change their grant conditions and/or institutions/authors retain their rights,” wrote the authors.

The whole report is worth reading, but of special interest are the recommendations, which lay out best practices for foot-dragging publishers (and other stakeholders). Still, SPARC Europe’s fixation on CC BY—part of a wider CC BY fetishism in segments of the OA world—is frustrating. There are good reasons to encourage non-commercial OA licenses like CC BY-NC: to block commercial exploitation and to encourage a nonprofit scholarly communication ecosystem.

‘The Ultimate Disrupter To Higher Education Isn’t Silicon Valley. It’s Faculty.’

A deeply cynical Forbes piece by Kaplan’s Brandon Busteed:

The current narrative about the edtech industry is that it’s driven by innovative disrupters from outside of education – the proverbial Silicon Valley story of tech entrepreneurs finding solutions to all our most vexing problems. This disrupter story gets even more pronounced in higher education by the contrasting view of colleges and universities as institutions beholden to tradition, held back by faculty who are reticent to change. But that narrative is going to shift.

Faculty, Busteed writes, are responsible for MOOCs and have founded a bevy of startups. So the campaign to remake higher ed in the image of venture capital is, his reasoning goes, organic after all.

This is hogwash, of course: The fact that a growing number of aca-entrepreneurs betray their own values to enrich themselves doesn’t mean that the decades-old commercialization trend is faculty-led. Busteed, anyway, doesn’t really believe his own thesis. The reason to prime this narrative pump, he admits, is widespread faculty opposition. If only those pesky academics could be convinced that their peers were leading the charge, perhaps they’d stand down:

Any time “disruption” or “reform” is brought up in education circles, it typically raises the hackles of teachers and faculty. But when a new initiative or disruption is led by a faculty member, it certainly changes the tone and considerably lessens potential negativity and resistance. This is not to say that all faculty innovations prove successful, nor that outsiders can’t build incredibly successful initiatives. But holding the idea constant, one initiated by faculty – by insiders – has an ‘acceptance’ advantage over something developed outside the academy. In short, there’s inherent credibility in faculty-generated innovations and we would all be wise to pay closer attention to faculty-driven innovation, to proactively seek it out and to embrace it when it happens.

Busteed wants to bring about the misleading narrative he purports, in the piece‘s headline and opening grafs, to merely describe. As pro-corporate propaganda.

‘Online course platform Thinkific raises $22M’


It’s been a big year for online learning companies — and it sounds like Thinkific is no exception. The Vancouver-based startup is announcing that it has raised $22 million in new funding.

Thinkific is different from businesses such as MasterClass (which raised $100 million this year) and Skillshare (which raised $66 million) because it doesn’t create, distribute or monetize online classes itself. Instead, it’s built a platform where anyone can create their own courses, then sell them on their own websites.

From the main VC:

“Working with Thinkific over the past four years has been nothing short of exceptional,” said Rhino Managing Partner Fraser Hall in a statement. “It’s no secret that its business model, user numbers, and ~ 150% year-over-year revenue growth, is tracking, by stage, very closely to Shopify which is now Canada’s most valuable public company … It’s a model that is undoubtedly shaping a new world of knowledge entrepreneurship and one that’s accessible to any individual or organization that wants to add education as a new revenue channel.”

The gold rush continues.

Proposal: Align Reward Structure with Corporate and Faculty Greed

From an NSF-funded, cross-university campaign to oil the gears of faculty profiteering:

In order to gain broad support for the recognition of [Innovation & Entrepreneurship] within [Promotion and Tenure] guidelines and processes, it is critical that I&E supporters on university campuses use language and terminology which is relatable across their institution. For example, PTIE organizers and many others have found that use of the “societal” or “public”  phraseology (e.g. societal / public impact, societal need, Public Impact Research) to be an effective mechanism to inclusively engage with faculty around the topics of I&E.

Translation: Bathe the proposal to promote profiteering in the misleading language of “public impact.” As if the point isn’t clear—don’t dare call the proposal for what it is—the statement continues:

Use of alternate terms such as “economic impact” or “market impact” can create a misperception of an overweighting of importance on the financial aspects of the faculty member’s work in I&E. Additionally, not all I&E-related impact has an immediate and/or overt linkage to a financial transaction. This approach allows the topic to be viewed more broadly across campus and support a wider cross-section of faculty.

If these are indeed “recommendations”, the main one is to lie to fellow faculty.

Happy 5th Birthday to OLH

From the Open Library of Humanities blog:

The Open Library of Humanities today celebrates its 5th anniversary since we launched our platform on 28th September 2015 with only 7 journals and 99 supporting institutions. Five years on, our sustainable business model has attracted nearly 300 supporting institutions, proving the success of its pioneering non-classical economic model, and enabling us to establish a thriving platform of 28 peer-reviewed journals.

In many ways OLH, and its chief scholar-visionary Martin Eve, have pioneered the crucial third-way library-funding model. Cheers!

Jeff Pooley is professor of media & communication at Muhlenberg College and director of mediastudies.press, an open access scholarly publisher.

pooley@muhlenberg.edu | press@mediastudies.press

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