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Saving the World Economy: Paul Krugman and Olivier Blanchard in Conversation

The Graduate Center, CUNY · Youtube · 3 HN comments
HN Theater has aggregated all Hacker News stories and comments that mention The Graduate Center, CUNY's video "Saving the World Economy: Paul Krugman and Olivier Blanchard in Conversation".
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Two of the foremost experts on the international economy, Paul Krugman and Olivier Blanchard, engage in a discussion about recent crises around the world and how to prevent global economic collapse. Paul Krugman is a Nobel Prize-winning economist, noted New York Times columnist and author, and distinguished professor in the Ph.D. Program in Economics at the Graduate Center. Olivier Blanchard, chief economist at the International Monetary Fund from 2008 to 2015, is a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics and Robert M. Solow Professor of Economics emeritus at MIT.

Presented on December 7, 2015, by GC Public Programs and the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies.
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The response to my inquiry indicates that the collection was thought redundant.

To which I replied:

John, thank you for your reponse.

I can understand the sense that you were simply providing a set of redudant and duplicate services. I do feel that's less a cardinal sin than it may at first appear.

Though it may be a lost cause, there's simply the durability of URLs, and not breaking links and bookmarks. Adelaide's decision has had widespread impacts well beyond the walls of your institution. Linkrot is a tragedy. Cool URLs don't change: https://www.w3.org/Provider/Style/URI.html

See also Edward Tufte on the topic: https://www.edwardtufte.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=...

There is also the utility of presentation. I'm not generally one to speak highly of Web design and presentation (one of my modest claims to fame is a rather salty-tongued demonstration of what I find to be good style, of which reproducable elements of the title are "Edward Morbius's Website", on CodePen). When I say that Adelaide's eBook site had remarkably good design, I really mean it. It was my first impression on encountering the site, as memorialised at Hacker News: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21391464

I'm very sorry to see that gone. Thankfully the Internet Archive seem to have captured much or all of the [email protected] site.

And yes, IA's Wayback Machine is an international treasure. I'd prefer we weren't all increasingly relying on it, however. There's no reason to give even altruistically-minded and future-minded Americans all the prizes. As an archival institution, you may appreciate the value of independent collections, widely separated. That said, I've downloaded several of the works from there for local consumption.

I'm quite familiar with Hathi Trust. Mostly for the reason that, whilst it does contain an impressive collection of works, those are all but entirely inaccessible to me.

Hathi does not allow downloads of materials, even those in the public domain. Full Hathi access is also only available via major research universities. It is not available to the general public over the Internet, or at ordinary public libraries, nor even may college and university libraries below the level of major research institutions.

In Australia that can mean full access requires travel of thousands of kilometers. In somewhat more densely populated developed-world regions (I'm constrasting density, not developedness, with Oz), that can still mean tens or hundreds of kilometers of travel, for what really ought be available as readily as Facebook, TikTok, or Reddit over any WiFi or G4 mobile link.

Hathi have even managed to take such generally exemplary tools as the Internet Archive's BookReader software (truly exceptional) and foul that up -- Hathi's online reader, where it's available, is utterly unusable, and has been for years, on mobile devices. I make heavy use of a 9.7 inch tablet, which is otherwise a serviceable e-book reader. Again: Hathi is by all appearances gratuitously incompatible.

I've lobbied both Hathi and local institutions to change this, with no success. Hathi links are an all but certain pressaging of immense frustration and disappointment.

Gutenberg on the other hand is generally more useful and is among the services I do make heavy use of. In particular, it offers the multiple formats and affordances of online HTML, multiple downloadable formats (generally: text, PDF, and ePub), and has an extensive collection. I really do appreciate that.

I'd at to my (and you might considering to your) list: the Internet Archive, whose books and Open Library collection offer legal access to a wide range of public domain and (for limited borrowing) copyrighted works. I've already mentioned their BookReader software, which is ... mostly usable via tablet (I still prefer downloading and reading locally). Another characteristic is that scans of original books are used, for those cases in which original typography and other print artefacts are of interest.

WikiSource also has full text access to multiple works, and multiple downloadable formats. Another good addition to your recommendations list as these are public domain or publicly-licensed works.

Most useful though have been the online Samizdat press: Sci-Hub, Library Genesis, ZLibrary, and the like. I can appreciate that these likely won't make your suggestion list, and can sympathise, though I feel the sentiments (if not the legality) are ultimately wrongheaded: there is a true real global social benefit in making information freely available with minimal roadblocks or speed-bumps. I often refer to Sci-Hub as the the Library of Alexandra, as in Elbakyan, and feel very much that it holds to the spirit of the original, which you may recall would seize all documents from ships arriving to that harbour city, copy those, and return the copies to the owners, keeping the originals for their own collection. Well into mediaeval times, a principle function of many libraries was offered through the scriptorium, literally the copying room. Somewhat predating Xerox and modern book scanners.

I quite literally owe my ability to perform any amount of meaningful scholarship to these sites, the law be damned.

Several notable modern academics make the case for information as a public good, not only in the economic sense, but in the policy sense. I particularly commend:

Chase F. Robinson, president of the Graduate Center, City University of New York: "At the Graduate Center, we believe knowledge is a public good. This idea inspires our research, teaching, and public events. We invite you to join us for timely discussions, diverse cultural perspectives, and thought-provoking ideas." Introducing a conversation between Paul Krugman and Olivier Blanchard, and a rare case in which the introduction compares favourably with the main act: https://youtube.com/watch?v=zndOEQnMC44

Joseph Stiglitz, "Knowledge as a Global Public Good," in Global Public Goods: International Cooperation in the 21st Century, Inge Kaul, Isabelle Grunberg, Marc A. Stern (eds.), United Nations Development Programme, New York: Oxford University Press, 1999, pp. 308-325. http://s1.downloadmienphi.net/file/downloadfile6/151/1384343...

I invite you to pass this message along to University of Adelaide library leadership.

Thank you.

Answering the question "Why is Sci-Hub so popular?":

Because it works. It delivers information and knowledge to those who need it.

Because information and knowledge are public goods. As CUNY/GC says, an "increasingly unpopular idea",1,2,3 but an absolutely correct one.

Because it democratises information.

Because much the world cannot afford to pay US/EU/JP/AU prices for content. Including many of those in the US/EU/JP/AU. And most certainly virtually all outside. Billions and billions of people.

Because the research is (often) publicly funded, conducted in public institutions, and meant for the public.

Because information and markets simply don't work. https://redd.it/2vm2da

Deadweight losses from restricted access and perverse incentives for publication both taint the system.

Because much the content, EVERYTHING published before 1962, would have been public domain under the copyright law in force at the time, and much up through 1976 and the retrospective extensions of copyright it, and multiple subsequent copyright acts, have created.

Because 30% profit margins are excessive by any measure. Greed, in this case, is not good.

Because the interfaces to existing systems, a patchwork fragment of poorly administered, poorly designed, limited-access, and all partial systems are frankly far more tedious to navigate than Sci-Hub: Submit DOI or URL, get paper.

Because unaffiliated independent research is a thing.

Because the old regime is absolutely unsustainable. It will die. It is dying as we write this.

Because the roles of financing research and publication need not parallel the activity of accessing content. Ronald Coase's "Theory of the Firm" (1937, ), a paper which should be public domain today under the law in which it was created and published, and should have been by 1991 at the latest, but isn't, tells us why: transactions themselves have costs. http://sci-hub.ac/http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abs...

Because journals no longer serve a primary role as publishers of academic material, but as gatekeepers over academic professional advancement. This perpetrates multiple pathologies: papers don't advance knowledge, academics are blackmailed into the system, and access to knowledge is curtailed

Because what the academic publishing industry calls "theft" the world calls "research".

Notes

See GC Presents, "At the Graduate Center, we believe knowledge is a public good. This idea inspires our research, teaching, and public events. We invite you to join us for timely discussions, diverse cultural perspectives, and thought-provoking ideas." https://www.gc.cuny.edu/Public-Programming/GC-Presents

See GC President Chase F. Robinson, introducing a conversation between Paul Krugman and Olivier Blanchard. A rare moment where the introduction itself contains some provocative thoughts. At about 50s into the video. (The remaining 72 minutes and 20 seconds aren't bad either if you're interested in discussions of global economics.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zndOEQnMC44

Joseph Stiglitz, "Knowledge as a Global Public Good," in Global Public Goods: International Cooperation in the 21st Century, Inge Kaul, Isabelle Grunberg, Marc A. Stern (eds.), United Nations Development Programme, New York: Oxford University Press, 1999, pp. 308-325. http://s1.downloadmienphi.net/file/downloadfile6/151/1384343...

https://www.reddit.com/r/dredmorbius/comments/4p2rwk/what_th...

(This has proved to be among my more popular articles, including being picked up by the Open Access community.)

Micropayments don't scale either. Public funding for information. It's a public good. Treat it as one.

https://www.reddit.com/r/dredmorbius/comments/2vm2da/why_inf...

See GC Presents, "At the Graduate Center, we believe knowledge is a public good. This idea inspires our research, teaching, and public events. We invite you to join us for timely discussions, diverse cultural perspectives, and thought-provoking ideas.".

https://www.gc.cuny.edu/Public-Programming/GC-Presents

See GC President Chase F. Robinson, introducing a conversation between Paul Krugman and Olivier Blanchard. A rare moment where the introduction itself contains some provocative thoughts. At about 50s into the video. (The remaining 72 minutes and 20 seconds aren't bad either if you're interested in discussions of global economics.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zndOEQnMC44

Joseph Stiglitz, "Knowledge as a Global Public Good," in Global Public Goods: International Cooperation in the 21st Century, Inge Kaul, Isabelle Grunberg, Marc A. Stern (eds.), United Nations Development Programme, New York: Oxford University Press, 1999, pp. 308-325.

http://s1.downloadmienphi.net/file/downloadfile6/151/1384343...

eachro
This seemslike a reasonable idea but then you get into the hairy situation of government endorsing different biases. You can bet that a conservative pres/congress is going to push public funding towards more conservative sources and likewise for more liberal pres/congress. State funded news sources is not where we want to go.
dredmorbius
We already have a system in which those who pay the piper instill biases.

Government is, at least, answerable (in theory) to the people in a way that no other alternative I'm aware of is: advertising, patronage, religious sponsorship.

Media are inherently propagandistic -- there is always an exceptionally strong incentive to manipulating, diverting, distracting, or otherwise controlling the public or oligarchical discussion.

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