[Air-l] Encyclopedia of Community

Michael Gurstein mgurst at vcn.bc.ca
Fri Apr 4 18:22:02 PST 2003

Forsooth, Barry...

I think that I'm one of the two authors that you are pointing to in your
note and I think it might be useful to raise this issue here.

I was delighted when the Encyclopedia you referred to invited me to do an
article on Community Informatics/Community Based Technologies.  And as I
normally do, I procrastinated in reading the contract while I finished the

Having finished the article and having corresponded with the company, I was
about to send in the article when they insisted that I send in a signed

I then took the time to read the contract and I must admit I was appalled.

The terms of the contract, which I can dig out if anyone is interested
basically indicated that I was turning over to them, essentially for free,
all rights to this article which they specified should be completely
original and not published in any other place or any other format.
Furthermore, they stated that I could not publish this material in any other
form or location (including on the web) without being in breach.

Now since this was an encyclopedia article in an area in which I do much of
my publishing strictly speaking I was turning over to the publisher
essentially for nothing a potentially considerable part of my current and
future intellectual capital.  I also was reflecting on an earlier and quite
unsatisfactory experience with a publisher who chose to price my work
completely out of its appropriate market based on a business model which I
consider to be pernicious in the extreme.

At that point I began to look around on the net.  I am aware, as I'm sure
all of you are, that this type of approach to publishing is currently
standard in academia although the issue of publishing in an encyclopedia
meant to be a standard reference guide is somewhat different from publishing
research in a research journal.

I discovered to my considerable interest that there is quite a lot of
activity concerning the matter of intellectual property at the moment (given
the attempts by many to make the IP laws even more restrictive than they
currently are) and the Open Society Institute (Soros Foundation) among
others are developing and making available draft contracts which are much
more balanced in the rights of authors versus publishers as for example




I suggested to this publisher that perhaps they might agree to one of the
draft contracts available through one of these websites.  After a fairly
extensive correspondence they declined and I then declined to have my
article published by them.  (The main issue in most of these draft
agreements appears to be republishing rights on the web...)

In part as a result of this experience, I am, with colleagues currently
developing an open source, open archive text book in the area of Community
Informatics with the intention that the material be freely available on the
net--my piece for the encyclopedia (along with a number of others) is now
available at http://www.ci-text.dr.ag/ -->Submitted Papers. (Feel free to
reproduce any of the items on this website as long as the authorship is
acknowledged and they are not reproduced for resale.)

Since one gets essentially nothing from publishers such as this, there is
little loss in publishing open archive on the Net and quite a bit to gain
from a much broader circulation of one's material and the knowledge that
one's work may be accessible to all those who might benefit from having
access and not simply those who can afford the truly exorbitant prices that
these publishers are charging.

Additional contributors to our text book are welcome...


Michael Gurstein, Ph.D.
Visiting Professor: School of Management
New Jersey Institute of Technology
Newark, NJ

-----Original Message-----
From: air-l-admin at aoir.org [mailto:air-l-admin at aoir.org]On Behalf Of
Barry Wellman
Sent: Thursday, April 03, 2003 3:14 PM
To: aoir list
Cc: monica murero
Subject: [Air-l] Encyclopedia of Community

Just to clarify Monica Murero's Encyclopedia posting:

It is the Encyclopedia of Communty, to be published by Sage this June. It
contains 49 articles about the internet (et al) and community, including a
very nice one in which Monica is the lead author. I edited all of them

(And a pox on the 2 readers of this list who defaulted on their articles
at the very end, putting tremendous stress on me and the 2 wonderful
people who jumped in as replacement authors -- they're also readers of
this list.)

Howevever, the 49 articles are only 1/8 of the entire Encyclopedia. It's
in 4 volumes. It also has 650 leads to popular books, movies, etc on
community -- Many thanks to the list readers who responded with
suggestions. We used most of them.

The bad news is that the book is expensive. 500+ USD -- which means that
effectively only libraries and Microsoft employees can afford it!

I have been trying to get Sage to publish a revised version of our 49
internet/community articles as a separate book, but they haven't agreed
now. Perhaps after they do their library sales, we will have better luck.
Of course, we are a fast moving field, and I'd face the task of editing 49
articles again, but 45/49 were a joy to work with -- thanks to all of you.


  Barry Wellman        Professor of Sociology       NetLab Director
  wellman at chass.utoronto.ca   http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman

  Centre for Urban & Community Studies        University of Toronto
  455 Spadina Avenue   Toronto Canada M5S 2G8   fax:+1-416-978-7162

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