Spies in the Information Economy: Academic Publishers and the Trade in Personal Information
Keywords:academic publishers, information brokers, data, information, personal information, trade
AbstractAcademics work within a complex network of institutions, and publishers are prominent in this network. But publishers are no longer the simple entities they once were in the Gutenberg galaxy. As the Reed Elsevier controversy shows, academic publishers can now be merely parts of large impersonal transnational information brokers, whose interests can extend from humanitarian medical journals to the provision of conferencing facilities for the arms trade2 . It is not surprising that commercial publishers should seek to ‘add value’ to whatever assets they have and can obtain. However, it is not so much the raw materials (data) or material products of old-fashioned information sharing (books and paper journals) that provide this added value, but various forms of combination, mixing and manipulation of data, including the growing trade in the products of surveillance: information about individuals and groups.
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