Governing Digital Knowledge Infrastructures - Sci-Hub, a pirate infrastructure?
The College of Humanities and the Laboratory for the History of Science and Technology are pleased to invite you to the first session of Pierre Mounier’s monthly seminar on Governing Digital Knowledge Infrastructures, with Pr. Chérifa Boukacem as guest.
Digital infrastructures are required to design and develop their services to be “user-centric”: users’ needs should be the starting point of the service provision. But in some cases, users don’t wait for institutions and companies to deliver the services they need; they take the initiative to address immediately their own needs, without being embarrassed or slowed down by financial, organisational or legal obstacles.
Sci-hub, a peer-to-peer platform dedicated to scientific publications sharing, was developed in 2011 by the researcher Alexandra Elbakyan. Even though the platform clearly infringes copyright law and is regularly sued by commercial publishers, it receives popular support from the researchers worldwide and is massively used. In a provocative paper published in Palladium Magazine. Jason Parry argues that “Like the clandestine networks that helped to promote and popularize prohibited ideas and research in earlier eras, Sci-Hub functions as an infrastructure for circumventing artificially imposed limits on human thought”. Recent research showed indeed that Sci-Hub and its sister platform dedicated to academic books, Lib-Gen, are favored in particular by ECRs: Nicholas, David, Chérifa Boukacem-Zeghmouri, Jie Xu, Eti Herman, David Clark, Abdullah Abrizah, Blanca Rodríguez-Bravo, and Marzena Świgoń, "Sci-Hub: The New and Ultimate Disruptor? View from the Front" Learned Publishing 32, no 2 (2019): 147 53.
- What does the success of Sci-Hub mean regarding the current status of scholarly communication?
- How does it exemplify the failure of the current scholarly communication ecosystem to address new demands from the youngest generation of scholars to be able to access and share knowledge without barriers?
- Can we consider Sci-hub as a revealing agent or as a disrupting player in the ecosystem?
- How can it be compared with previous similar initiatives in other domains, such as Napster and Pirate Bay?
- 2:00 - 3:00 pm: Dr Cherifa Boukacem, Professor at Lyon University, one of the researchers participating in the “Harbinger” study on ECRs’ information practices, and co-author of the paper on the usage of Sci-Hub will be with us at EPFL to discuss her study with the audience. The discussion will be moderated by Mounier.
- 3:30-5:00 pm: A workshop will take place where volunteers can experiment collectively the creation of visual essays reflecting their personal views on the topic discussed previously, using Juncture, a user-friendly open source online authoring tool recently released by Jstor Labs.