My reaction to the sell-off of edX, [published today in *The Chronicle*](

> Harvard and MIT have, in effect, auctioned off the lecture halls of the future. It’s a short-sighted move reminiscent of another infrastructure transfer, in scholarly publishing. As early as the 1950s, academic societies began to [mimic]( the new sales-based commercial model of for-profit publishers. By the turn of the millennium, most societies had handed over their journals to be published by the big commercial players, in exchange for a share of profit. Now most scholarship is [published]( by an oligopolist quintet of information conglomerates that, in turn, charge their college customers usurious fees.

> That industry is among the [most profitable]( in the world, in part because academics write and review for free. As the historian Aileen Fyfe [has shown](, there was nothing inevitable about the joint custody — nonprofit colleges and for-profit publishers — we’ve ended up with. We owe our current predicament, in part, to the decisions of learned societies who chose short-term cash over their scholar-members’ long-term interests. Harvard and MIT have just made the same disastrous miscalculation.