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Eduardo R. Saguier: Electronic Incommunication in World Periphery

13.08.2002 | Source:



Dear Mrs. Novikova: I have the pleasure to get in touch with you in order to denounce one of the most relevant human right violations suffered by scientific researchers in peripheral countries, the right to communicate and be informed, guaranteed by their respective National Constitutions. The need to break the absolute isolation and incommunication that the research institutions are experiencing --with respect to tariffed bibliographic and hemerographic Databases existent in the Web-- is becoming every day more pressing and unavoidable. The urging importance that these Databases have for the excelence of our research performance and for any country that wants to privilege scientific research activities as a platform for its economic and cultural takeoff (such were the cases of Ireland and Finland) is something superfluous to be emphasized in this letter. We find ourselves in circumstances similar to those experienced by the most backward European countries during the Renaissance, when Guttenberg discovered the print, obliged to continue reading parchment, papyrus and clay tablets. Moreover, the amazing electronic incommunication in which we are involved has increased because the number of tariffed Databases existing in the Web has enlarged in the recent times. On the contrary, in the opposite extreme of this irrational behavior, governments of peripheral countries are searching by all means to break the financial incommunication that their countries experience with the institutions of international credit. We believe that this contradiction between both behaviors is a hipocresy and a double discourse. This contradiction in political practices and this hipocresy in discourses, that no crisis could justify, offend our scientific researchers, encourages the exodus of younger generations of researchers, and frighten away any chance that young scholars living in the first world would like to return to their countries of origin. This reality of diaspora, that the economists do not compute in the balance of payments and in the external indebtment incurred by peripheral countries suggest new questions їhow much the creditor countries owe us for our export of intelligence? First world countries ask for the payment of royalties, copyrights and tariffed subscriptions but are unable to retribute the intelligence exported by peripheral countries. Some private universities are subscribed to some of those Databases, and this unequal situation increases even more the qualitative gap between public and private institutions. In order to back their argument, for students and researchers only remains the possibility to break the secret keys and hack those Databases, with all the personal and institutional risks implied. Moreover, the contradiction and the hipocresy could be partially repaired if the parasitic and superfluous expenses be punished, and the budget reassigned. On the contrary, research institutions permanently suffer discharges in their budgets and incur in sumptuary expenses that could be assigned for the goals already mentioned. These public research institutions have sistematically boycotted the subscription to those Databases, such as J-Store, Pro-Quest, Electronic Reference Library, Elsevier, Carfax, Sage, Kluwer, Blackwell, II Mulino, Swets Backsets Service, Frank Cass, Chadwyck-Healy, Bell Howell, Galeґs Ready Reference Shelf, Project Muse and HAPI, among many other Databases existent in the world. However, governments in these countries persist in giving priority to the resolution of the financial incommunication with the institutions of international credit, without any consideration whatsoever to the scientific and cultural incommunication we are experiencing, condemning us to practice a peripheral science unable to compete with the vanguard research practiced in the scientific institutions of First World countries. Sincerely,

Eduardo R. Saguier, Ph.D. Senior Researcher, CONICET Argentina


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