Disclaimer 1: many of the ideas have been inspired by the work of Alex Gil (@elotroalex) and Denis Tenen (@dennistenen)1 and discussions with the two of them and others at DHI Beirut, THATCamp Beirut, and DHSI.

Disclaimer 2: I am teaching short workshops on some of the ideas outlined in this post at Digital Humanities Institute - Beirut on 10 March 2017 and at DH Abu Dhabi on 10 April 2017. Basic slides are available here and here.


In the world of (academic) publishing, large aggregators and indexers have turned into and acquired publishing presses and generate obscene profits by charging the public (every tax-payer worldwide) multiple times over. First by charging the predominantly publicly-funded academic for publishing the results of her publicly-funded research and by enforcing a culture of pro bono labour among academic reviewers and editors; second by selling this content to equally predominantly publicly-funded libraries, which then increasingly demand access fees from members of the public, who want to access their collections; and third by offloading the cost of long-term preservation to, again, publicly-funded institutions. This system not only created a hierarchy of academics and institutions in the relatively well-off “West”—two classes divided by their ability to pay for being published and accessing publications (their own and others). It also increasingly prevents anybody outside western academia from accessing cutting-edge research and participating in intellectual discourse.

  1. Tenen, Dennis and Grant Wythoff. “Sustainable Authorship in Plain Text Using Pandoc and Markdown.” 

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