Friday, January 13, 2012

Rioting for the Right

Heard on the radio this morning that there were “scuffles” in line among folks waiting for the release of the iPhone 4S at some Beijing Apple stores, which got worse apparently when Apple decided not to open the stores over concerns about violence. Some are blaming Apple for the problems as there’s talk among their potential customers that the real reason they wouldn’t open the stores was because Apple had sold all available phones to corrupt officials and their families.

And Apple’s response, there are plenty available online.

This got me thinking. Did those customers not know they could simply get it online, or did they want one immediately. Or, is this a chicken and egg problem—Do some of those customers need an iPhone to get online? Or is it something else. Is this about being able to get it at a brick and mortar? Is it about the process of going to the store, looking at the product, trying the product, and taking home the product? I ask this because as we watch Borders fade into the sunset, and Indies close at a rate of one or two a day, I wonder if what those people in Beijing were rioting over was as much about the experience of buying the product as it was the product itself. I have always adored the experience of shopping in a bookstore. What happened in China makes me wonder if I should be somehow actively protesting to protect it.

On another note, the director of the publisher I work for just went publically against H.R. 3699, also known as the Research Works Act, which ostensibly protects commercial publishers from the “threat” of Open Access by putting limitations on the use of Open Access systems for some research. I’m really pleased that we took this stand and that we’re doing the right thing on this issue.

This is from the act itself, and it demonstrates how the act prohibits the use of Open Access without the commercial publisher's permission, and then goes on to prohibit Federal agencies from requiring the public to be allowed to read the research it paid for:


    No Federal agency may adopt, implement, maintain, continue, or otherwise engage in any policy, program, or other activity that--
      (1) causes, permits, or authorizes network dissemination of any private-sector research work without the prior consent of the publisher of such work; or
      (2) requires that any actual or prospective author, or the employer of such an actual or prospective author, assent to network dissemination of a private-sector research work.
It's enough to make a citizen want to riot.

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