As of a few months ago, I’m no longer on a publish-or-perish academic track. Mozilla gives me the freedom to publish, but no pressure. Coincidentally, the publishing world is at a bit of a crossroads. Some organizations, like USENIX, are increasingly open: all papers are published for the world to see, many talks are videotaped and available openly. Others, like IEEE, are increasingly closed, with tighter and tighter constraints on authors, more paywalls and obstacles to the dissemination of knowledge.
I’ve got increased freedom, so I intend to use it. Starting today, I will not publish nor review papers destined for closed venues. Academic publications should be available for the world to read, to learn from, to build upon. If you’d like me on your program committee, if you’d like me to review a journal publication, if you’d like me to help with a paper, please understand that I will refuse if the conference/journal isn’t truly open. In the short term, this probably means I’ll only work with USENIX, and maybe IACR which appears to be moving towards true open-access.
My move isn’t exactly courageous. I have the luxury to make this decision, while many of my colleagues do not. I hope a few tenured professors make this move, though, as they have both the luxury and a good bit more influence than I do. Matt Blaze is starting down this path. Dan Wallach is helping tweak the IEEE approach. All of these efforts are incredibly important.
This is about free dissemination of knowledge. This is the point of the Internet. Academics who stand for discovery and learning should be outraged by the direction most publishers are taking today, and should at the very least encourage those publishers who are doing it well. Hesitating between ACM and USENIX? Go with USENIX. IACR holding a vote on open-access publishing? Make your voice heard.