A suggestion: Organize!

Ian MitchellIan Mitchell wrote 03/31/2019 at 20:02 • 3 min read • Like

I’m sure you’ve had this situation before: You go to look for a paper about something, anything, relating to some research you’re doing or a project you’re building. You find that one paper that has all the info you could have ever asked for—but the paper was published on SpringerLink, APSPhysics, or worse: ScienceDirect. Just to read the paper for twenty four hours, you have to pay upwards of forty dollars. What an absolute ripoff!

I’m sure you’ve had this situation before: You go on the internet to browse around and see people talking about climate change or something to that extent. Everything looks good up until you see what politicians are doing. They’re either doing nothing or denying its existence.

See, science is a cooperative field. It always has. The people who were closed off, petty, or just generally non-cooperative generally ended up either having a failed career or end up in obscurity. If someone has a secret in science, then they really never made a good discovery. Are there exceptions to the rule? Sure. William Shockley was an example of this kind of person. But… he was into eugenics (ew), and had many mental disorders that went untreated.1

This may be me being a total lefty, but, we need to address the elephant in the room: Working scientists, engineers, hackers—really just all academics—need to organize and unionize. If we are cooperative, why aren’t we using it to not only advance labor rights, but human rights? Why aren’t we doing what we can to build a better world? We can have all the data and research we want. At the end of the day, action needs to be taken—for grant money, for better tools and parts, for better working conditions.

Politicians and corporate executives really aren’t in it for us. Even the most earnest of politicians can be swayed away from serving the people; and even the most humble of CEOs have to focus on profit. We can’t count on them to represent us.

Unionizing is the best way to really pull ourselves together. I’m not calling for some socialist IWW type of project (though I’d like that to be a thing).2 I’m calling for something that organizes academics to build a platform for themselves—so that the wider public can actually hear what we have to say.

Call for open access to articles and books, policy change, and representation as much as you want. A single voice can’t make it all the way through a sea of noise. But, if enough people yell, even the constant noise can be silenced.

  1. Unfortunately, considering the time that Schockley was alive, this was normal. If you had any mental disorders, you basically had the option of acting like the do not exist or going to a mental hospital. Considering how people view the conditions of mental hospitals now as better than how they were back in the fifties, that paints a pretty grim picture of how they were in the time.

  2. At least without the dumb stuff the IWW has been doing as of late.