Tag Archives: memorial

Jstor in Mobile, Alabama, one week ago

We’re reading the Scottish play.

We have to.  For school

And Mr. Ledingham said, “do research.”

And Lenea said, “he means, like, England.”

And I said, “that’s not Scotland.”

She said, “same difference.”

We googled “Macbeth” and “ghosts,” because you know, [shiver], right?  And this came up.

Shakespeare’s Ghosts
F. W. Moorman
The Modern Language Review
Vol. 1, No. 3 (Apr., 1906), pp. 192-201

But we could only read the first page because of something called Jstor.

Then we found:

On Elizabethan “Credulity”: With Some Questions Concerning the Use of the Marvelous in Literature
Madeleine Doran
Journal of the History of Ideas
Vol. 1, No. 2 (Apr., 1940), pp. 151-176

But we got another Jstor.

That’s how it went most of the day and now it’s a joke.

When Mr. Ledingham confiscates something, someone says “Jstor!”

Someone shuts you down in the cafeteria?  Jstor!

Our Ti-cats shut down the most potent running game in the south, the crowd roars “Jstor!”  


Just at the moment when we should celebrate the technology that makes knowledge freely available to curious 15 year olds in Mobile, Alabama, we are asked instead to endure the unjust and unreasonable tax on knowledge called Jstor.


Here’s a piece I posted on this blog in 2008.  

Has this ever happened to you? You are hot on the trail of exactly the article you need to complete a thought, a post, perhaps a book, and, oh no!, you hit the red light from JSTOR.
Chances are you have. As of June 2007, the JSTORE database contained 729 journal titlesand over 165,000 individual journal issues, totaling over 23 million pages of text
Wikipedia says,

JSTOR (short for Journal Storage) is a United States-based online system for archiving academic journals, founded in 1995. It provides full-text searches of digitized back issues of several hundred well-known journals, dating back to 1665 in the case of the Philosophical Transactions.

JSTOR was originally funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, but is now an independent, self-sustaining, not-for-profit organization with offices in New York City and Ann Arbor, Michigan.

But I say, this stuff is bought and paid for. It is time to release it into the public domain. Surely, there is a university server somewhere that would assume the costs. Google, I am quite sure, would be willing to shoulder the burden.

The fact of the matter is JSTOR is holding precious resources captive to sustain itself…and its ability to hold precious resources captive. This content was created by academics funded by not-for-profit institutions. JSTOR is not reinvesting revenue in academic production. It is, as I say, now self sustaining in the worst sense of the term.

JSTOR is taxing public knowledge in order to sustain its ability to block access to public knowledge.

Time to let go.


Post script:

This post is dedicated to the memory of Aaron Swartz.

We should do something to keep Aaron’s fight going.  Please drop me a line, if you know of anything.