Whine and Sheez:
Entitlement and Gen-Lazy

By R. D. Flavin

6-28-2103


Urban Dictionary entry for "bp;dr."

     Earlier this week I read a brief blog mention of a new bibliographic citation “acronym.” Yes, Fark was involved... The author (var. blogger, Twitterer, boredom sufferer) was taken with “bp;dr” as an abbreviation for “behind paywall, didn't read.” First, why is a semi-colon used in the so-called “acronym” and not in its definition? Second, is “behind paywall” the same thing as “priced”? It's another whine and sheez affair in the digital world with memes served Table d'Hôte. Slacker footnote etiquette? Hipster? Creepy lazy? I'm going to go with boredom for now.

     Citations exist to provide the reader with the necessary information to verify an author's claims. A writer quotes or refers to something (a book, article, artwork, etc.) and the reader may choose to consult the cited work and independently determine if the author is correct or in error. Usually such verification of claims are separated into reference accuracy (i.e., yes, the cited work exists as the author claims) and inference (i.e., yes, the cited work inferred what the author claims). Referencing is pretty straightforward, despite various style-guides, and being consistent in a citation format is often well regarded whether a traditional or non-tradition style is used. Accuracy and honesty is all that's required for referencing and verification to occur. With inference there's the potential of subjective criticism (i.e., no, the cited work doesn't infer, imply, hint, tease, or withholds what the author claims), but such belongs to a relationship between the writer and the reader beyond referencing exactitude. Debate and disagreement about inference changes a monologue into a dialogue. The “reader” becomes an author with criticism concerning inference and the verified initial reference becomes a seed for a new work to grow.

     The genesis of “bp;dr” begins with the recent publication of “A Human Right to Science” by Audrey Chapman and Jessica Wyndham (Science; 340, 6138: 1291; June 14, 2013). It's a single page opinion piece on the importance of sharing the results and benefits of science with everyone in our global family and not just a privileged percentage. With brevity, it hints at a future required debate over intellectual property rights, creator compensation and profit, and the right of everyone to have access to science (e.g., new methods, drugs, equipment, etc.). It's the “Cure for Cancer” what-if scenario actualized, ...sort of literally, as cures are being developed and compassion and fairness requires an equitable discrimination. Yet, as is mentioned in the piece, 'science' also invites sharedness and it's important to get in front of academic censorship (governments stifling science for “national security” and blocking Internet research). “A Human Right to Science” is a short shout-out to the scientific and academic community to push through real or perceived bureaucratic tyrannies and promote a better global science policy. It's a good little read and I recommend it. The initialism “bp;dr” is a shaved-brow extension of “tl;dr” from 2005. Everyone wants to be a restaurant critic without having to eat the daily special.


Urban Dictionary entry for "tl;dr."

     Science is the “world's leading journal of original scientific research.” Published weekly, the journal has been a wonderful platform and conduit for scientific pursuits since 1880 and remains the premiere example of what an academic and peer-reviewed publication should be. Not perfect, but damned close! Science boasts 130,000 print subscribers with digital access to “users at site-licensed institutions.” Current copies are held at pretty much all state university libraries and most major medical institutions, however if physical access is problematic (i.e., dude, I don't have enough gas-money to drive to [insert university destination], a trip to one's local library and some simple “inter-library loan” magic is encouraged. “If” one cannot afford a trip to one's local library (and/or the possible cost of “borrowing” or photocopies) or some other hardship, a telephone call or e-mail to Science and/or the authors of a desired work may generate a free copy. I imagine the hardship would have to be notably severe. If an individual can communicate with either voice (make a telephone call) or text (write a letter or send an e-mail), a local library or the folks at Science will be able to help.

     As I reside in Boston, home to fifty-three “institutions of higher education” in its metropolitan area, there's very little I can't access with a kind word and my driver's license. Even though I'm not currently a Harvard Extension student, the Tozzer library allows “Members of the general public who present a current photo ID . . . up to six visits per year,” and is a great source for anthropology resources. And, taking the Green Line to Boston College, the Thomas P. “Tip” O'Neill, Jr. Library is open to all Boston residents and their archival journal holdings on microfilm and microfiche are extensive. However, with this particular research request (Science; 340, 6138: 1291), the Boston Public Library maintains a subscription and the journal takes 15-20 minutes to be brought to the Delivery Desk. And, if it's an article from a journal which the BPL doesn't carry, the Social Sciences Research Desk can either order a physical copy or request a unique electronic or digital copy of the article be sent to your e-mail account from another library or education service. Turnaround averages two weeks and some eclectic stuff might take a couple of months. Now, this is for new, current and recent journals, but not necessarily for older material as much has been digitized and is available through JSTOR or other academic databases. JSTOR is an online fee-based (“subscription”) service used by institutions, museums, and libraries both major and minor. Okay, the Flint (Michigan) Public Library doesn't have JSTOR, but they've got an alternative offering through the Academic One File service. So, kudos to libraries! Great place for free reading and research (and meeting women pretending to study the photography books).

     At issue, in my opinion, is a balance between convenience, necessity, and new technology. Remember when everyone was reading those printed books and all you had was a stack of wine-stained manuscripts? Yeah, me neither... My parents bought a color television in 1969, we “missed” three years worth of Bonanza in color, but ...then again, my mom always claimed that “black and white looks more realistic.” Don't say anything about my mom! "Keeping up with the Joneses" is not just the name of a early twentieth century newspaper comic-strip, it's also a manic lifestyle choice. Cable and satellite television in the late 1970s, the Sony Walkman cassette players in the mid-1980s, the DVD explosion in 2000, and the ongoing Blueray experiment are economic whine and sheez convenience complaints. Ain't nothing necessary about luxury technology (“lux-tech” or “fad-tech”), though the knobs are smooth and shiny, and while riding at the back of the bus has been deemed demeaning and degrading, being on the bus is better than walking! Okay, take a breath, that was a stab at class, not race. There are those who are regularly chauffeured about in armored stretch-Humvees, but just because I too own a really cool pair of sunglasses it doesn't mean I'm entitled to a free ride to the liquor store... It took some longer than others to disagree with Mark Knopfler and Sting by rejecting MTV.

     Personal computers, once the nerdy fusion of a typewriter, calculator, and a viewing screen, with the addition of a modem and the creation of the World Wide Web, became a much desired tool for porn and gossip. And, where there's heat there's consequences, and 'puters have spawned chic tablets for the hipster elite. Social media has mucho morphed since the Halcion days and nights of newsgroups and AOL chatrooms. The introduction of smartphones has further sucked Generation Lazy into the Craig's Face vacuum of virtual hook-ups (sexting and junk-pics). Listen closely for the clopping plodding of old horses cruising the dried up watering holes before they get shot. Fad-tech is wicked expensive and we must choose 'twixt the wonder of the Arab Spring and an app for finding short videos of little people dressed in costumes.

     Free societies around the world enjoy and benefit from news and science as presented in a variety of contemporary media. Repressive governments (e.g., Iran, North Korea, and Texas) shush news and warp science to further their individual cults of cruelty. Balk and bitch about the lack of personal discretionary spending, but all paywall-modeled newspapers run emergency and necessary news for free and all science and academic publications allow (read: encourage) qualified researchers to step forward and request access. Especially free access. “A Human Right to Science” makes a passim innuendo concerning the repressed and a need for an equitable and achievable policy and implementation to ensure everyone knows when the meteor is going to hit and those who can help science are assisted in their helping. I mean, sending JSTOR articles through a Yahoo account to a backwater (desert, actually) university in Iran is probably a TOS violation, but sharing science is always a good thing in my book ...or e-pub.

     I'd recommend forgoing spoilage and faux entitlement, but few would or should heed my behavioral suggestions. The case of Aaron Swartz and JSTOR across the Charles in a closet at MIT is heart wrenching. Like a Buddhist on fire... No, we move toward peace with charity and reason, not suicide-by-petaflop. Faster Internet! Thrill! Skill! Science will find a way beyond the fiction of Jurassic Park. We will see this through.

Now, get off my lawn, ...err, web-site,
Rick

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