LINGUIST List 12.1466

Thu May 31 2001

Disc: Ethics of Web-based vs Paper Publications

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <karenlinguistlist.org>


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  1. david odden, Re: 12.1462, Disc: New: Ethics of Web-based vs Paper Publications

Message 1: Re: 12.1462, Disc: New: Ethics of Web-based vs Paper Publications

Date: Thu, 31 May 2001 12:44:02 -0400
From: david odden <oddencolumbus.rr.com>
Subject: Re: 12.1462, Disc: New: Ethics of Web-based vs Paper Publications

RE Lev Michael's post on the ethics of different modes of publication:
Linguist 12.1462

Web-publication can have the effect of rendering papers invisible to those
in developing countries. It is fortunate that you have high-speed web access
(not to mention a computer), something that many of my colleagues in Africa
cannot take for granted. Additionally, printed articles are "platform
independent", whereas the hassles that face even us in North American
universities in trying to deal with postscript, PDF, Latex, and whatever,
can be enormous. The simple problem of fonts and the Mac/PC divide is
evidence to me that current web technology and practice is not satisfactory
as a sole mode of publishing. Given how file formats and other computer
specifications change quickly, one should expect an article web-published in
2001 to be un-openable in 2101. Most books don't crumble that quickly.
Web-publication, *when it replaces print publication*, simply changes the
way in which information becomes unavailable. Having both formats is better
than just one.

However, I don't see in what way this is exactly an ethical issue. The
question of intellectual property rights on the other hand is an ethical
one, but I see neither any point of principle or practice that makes one
mode of publication "more ethical". Theft of digital material by copying is
just as possible as theft of analog (printed) material.

Dave Odden
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