ACM and SIGGRAPH Members – Vote for Open Access!

Long-time readers of this blog will be well aware of my position on ACM and Open Access. Although ACM is a non-profit organization which ostensibly has as its only mandate “the advancement of computing as a science and a profession”, the ACM Publications Board has been behaving like a rent-seeking publisher; bullying students working to provide valuable resources to the community, and lobbying the US Government against Open Access initiatives, all in the name of protecting their revenue streams.

I have witnessed an outpouring of anger from the computing community at these events, convincing me that I am not alone in believing that the ACM Publications Board (and by extension the ACM itself) has tragically lost its way, prioritizing its income over the good of computing as a science and a profession. In fighting Open Access they are on the wrong side of history; witness all the leading academic institutions who have come out in favor of the very government Open Access initiative which the ACM has opposed.

If you believe as I do, then now is the chance to make a difference! SIGGRAPH is holding elections now for three Director-at-Large positions, to be selected from five candidates; the deadline for the elections is June 4th. If you are an active SIGGRAPH member, you should have received instructions for voting by now; you can vote at this link. ACM is also holding general elections for various Council positions, including the President of the ACM; you can vote at this link. The deadline for the ACM General Council elections is May 24th.

For me, Open Access is the most important issue in these elections. But which candidates will fight for Open Access, and which for the status quo? Of all the SIGGRAPH candidates, only one has explicitly mentioned Open Access in their position statement (James O’Brien, as Eric pointed out in a recent post), and so far one of the ACM Council candidates have: Salil Vadhan’s statment is here: http://www.acm.org/acmelections/candidate10.

To arm voting ACM and SIGGRAPH members with information on the candidates positions, I have composed some questions regarding ACM’s copyright policy and Open Access, and put them up on a web page. I have sent these questions to all the candidates for these elections (except for the few which I have so far been unable to contact), and am posting the answers on the web page as they come in.

So far only two candidates for the SIGGRAPH election have answered; Mashhuda Glencross and James O’Brien. Both answers are Open-Access friendly. No candidates for the ACM Council have come forward yet. Keep following the questions web page, and make sure to use the information there to select candidates, and vote in both elections. Nothing will ever change unless we make our voices heard!

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  1. Shadow007’s avatar

    Great initiative, Thanks !
    Since I’m a “real-time rendering/raytracing” hobbyist, with almost no money to put in, I don’t have access to publications except through pre/post prints, and could not justify spending more money on it…
    In the meantime, although I don’t add much money into research (except through taxes of course, which would justify my getting access to research), I think and hope that through the knowledge gained and exchanged with other people my interest is at least partially paying off.
    Of course one problem for the ACM is to stay financially viable… and it needs to be put in the ballance.

  2. Moshe Vardi’s avatar

    Demanding ACM to adopt open access without considering ACM’s business model is a naive and simplistic approach. ACM’s publication costs are around $12M per year. Proponents of open access should describe an alternative business model and argue that it’d be better than the current one.

    For more thoughts on this, see
    http://cacm.acm.org/magazines/2009/7/32075-open-closed-or-clopen-access/fulltext and

    http://cacm.acm.org/magazines/2010/2/69353-open-access-to-scientific-publications/fulltext

    Moshe Vardi

  3. Naty’s avatar

    ACM itself should be investigating alternative funding models which benefit its members and the computing community; the one it has picked (paywall on publications) restricts access to publications, to the detriment of authors and readers. Note “funding models”, not “business models”. ACM is NOT a business, and the fact that ACM leadership thinks of it as one is the very core of the problem.

    I have read the two linked CACM articles; they completely ignore the great benefits of a true, “Gold” Open Access model and focus myopically on the current funding model. I refer you again to the letter in support of the Federal Research Open Access Act (which your Publications Board has opposed): http://osc.hul.harvard.edu/docs/FRPAA-open-letter-2010.php. Note that besides the original 27 signatories, additional ones can be found here: http://www.arl.org/sparc/advocacy/frpaa/institutions.shtml – a total of 114 academic institutions. Open Access is inevitable – by opposing it ACM is standing on the wrong side of history and doing a disservice to its members and the computing community as a whole.

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