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Current, former KU faculty pay tribute on Twitter after open-access supporter's suicide


Following the death of Internet activist and developer Aaron Swartz, hundreds of academics took to Twitter this past weekend to honor him by posting open-access links to their research. And among them were at least one current and one former KU faculty member.

Swartz committed suicide in New York on Friday as he was awaiting trial for charges that he illegally downloaded nearly 5 million documents from JSTOR, an academic research database. He was an advocate for the free flow of information on the internet, after gaining fame by playing a role in the development of both the Internet tool RSS and the site Reddit, the so-called "front page of the Internet."

In tribute to his efforts, and perhaps in protest of his prosecution, researchers on Twitter linked to open-access research articles they'd written, using the hashtag #pdftribute.

Through a brief Twitter search, I spotted a couple of people with KU connections who joined in.

John Hoopes, an associate professor of anthropology (as well as a Mayan apocalypse expert and Wikipedia supporter) tweeted a link to a collection of his work.

And Nancy Baym, a former communications studies professor at KU who left last year to join Microsoft Research, also voiced her support for Swartz, linking to a collection of her KU work.

If you scroll down a bit in Baym's Twitter feed, you'll see some additional commentary about open access to research. She notes that KU encourages open-access publishing. Indeed, a number of KU faculty members have joined a boycott of the academic publisher Elsevier, alleging exorbitant subscription prices and other policies that discourage open access. And the KU Libraries system (which pays millions to provide faculty and students access to academic journals each year) also took part last fall in the international Open Access Week promotion, during which U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder spoke about legislation that would make all federally funded research articles available for free within six months of publication.

Those were the two folks with KU connections I managed to find who took part in the #pdftribute movement. If anyone else out there took part, feel free to note that in the comments.

And to contribute to our own free flow of information here, don't forget to send your KU news tips to merickson@ljworld.com.


jayhawklawrence 5 years, 3 months ago

When you commit suicide you betray the people that love you. More importantly, you betray your family.

Obviously, Aaron was greatly loved.

There is a reason why all the great religions of the world consider this a grave sin. It is absolute selfishness to those who love you.

This is nothing but tragic.

hedshrinker 5 years, 3 months ago

Please try to educate yourself more about the plight of those who suicide....I understand your point about how ALL those who survive a suicide are often forever changed....believe me I have been there more times than I would care to say. We often experience deep anger as well as sorrow and blame directed to ourselves, the victim, the treatment systems, etc. But to use negative judgemental words like BETRAY and SELFISH and to imply that all religious people have that same condemning attitude is NOT helpful to your healing or to other people who want and need help. Severe depression must be understood in all its complexity in terms of its causation and treatment. People who have chronically struggled with depression with psychotherapy and often use of multiple antidepressant medication over time sometimes feel they have no other option, as horrible as that is and often are not thinking clearly about the immensity of the long term consequences for others. You might want to look up Survivors of Suicide support group....we have a local chapter here....check out Headquarters locally...Marcia Epstein the long time director is a tremendous resource and advocate, both for those struggling with depression and for those left behind.

hedshrinker 5 years, 3 months ago

continuing to chew on this situation all day b/c it comes up alot in the larger world, in my practice, in the paper....We need to differentiate between what the person who chooses suicide has in their mind at the time and what the family and others left behind experience on a feeling level, at least initially. I believe often if not always the depressed person considering suicide is not sitting and thinking how can I hurt and betray the people who love me; they are often not thinking rationally at all, but just trying to end their unremitting pain of living, or they actually believe they are such a burden to the people who are "stuck" with them that they are doing them a favor by leaving the scene. Of course, what the family experiences is something else altogether. and I don't want to diminish jayhawklawrence's obvious pain and anger, just wonder if that might be something you want to heal and move past.

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