The preferred vehicle of rapists and lawyers…

An Associated Press story today describes accused rapist Kobe Bryant “[arriving at the courthouse] with his lawyers amid tight security in a caravan of three SUVs”.

A little Google News searching for SUVs brought up this summary of California news from October 7

A 6-year-old boy was shot in the head as he sat with his parents and brothers in an SUV…

A man was arrested and charged with attempted homicide after he allegedly ran over another man twice with a sport utility vehicle following a raucous house party in Palo Alto.

In Florida SUV owners are hitting bicyclists (story) and also in Minnesota (story).

On Long Island SUV drivers are killing and robbing people (story).

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The Party is Over for Books on the Web

Two publishers have approached us wanting to do a hardcopy version of (the textbook for 6.171 at MIT).  Both have lost interest when we said that we wanted to keep the text online.  To a traditional publisher the Web is a place for stuff that isn’t quite good enough to sell.  If the manuscript ever does become good enough to sell it should be made inaccessible to anyone who isn’t able to scratch up the $40.  An amusing side note is that one of the publishers who felt that it was critical to make every last dime possible from the sale of our book was Microsoft Press, whose working capital is $40 billion.

This dovetails slightly with, a quixotic effort to fight every academic journal publisher and all professional societies.  (In my own little field, for example, ACM and IEEE do their best to deny access to computer science research results to anyone who is not working at a university, a member of their orgs, or willing to pay $$$.  I.e., if you’re a kid in Africa wanting to learn something about computer science you’re not going to do it by looking at these folks’ journals on the Web.)

Economic growth comes from scientific and technical innovation.  Scientific and technical innovation depends to a large extent on innovators having access to each others’ published results.  It is thus a shame that the only way that an author can get money or tenure is by turning over his or her work to an organization whose primary goal is artificially restricting access to that work.

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