Take, for example, Little League games. What grandparent wouldn’t love to read an account of the highlights from her kid’s game? But what newspaper is going to send reporters to cover them? None. Narrative Science has figured out a way to fill in that gap. With an iPhone app called GameChanger, parents can enter a game’s play-by-play, down to each pitch. Supplied with that data, Narrative Science’s computer programs can create little write-ups of the games which grandparents and all avid Little League fans the world over can read online.
…The program even displays some “emotional intelligence” in its Little League reporting: Grandparents, as it turns out, don’t really want to read a straight drama of ups and downs, as though they had no dog in the fight. They want to kvell. “So,” Levy writes, “the algorithmic accounts of those matchups ignore dropped fly balls and focus on the heroics.”
Harvard may be the second-wealthiest nonprofit institution in the world (right behind the Catholic Church) but even so the price tag for its collection of academic journal bundles lining its libraries’ shelves is too high: close to $3.75 million, according to a memo from a faculty committee released last week. Some journals cost as much as $40,000.
The academic publishing industry is renowned for its unwieldy market power, which has enabled it to push prices ever upward, keep research locked away for subscribers only, even though its product is the fundamentally the result of university-paid faculty working on publicly-funded research. As Geroge Monbiot explains in The Guardian:
What we see here is pure rentier capitalism: monopolising a public resource then charging exorbitant fees to use it. Another term for it is economic parasitism. To obtain the knowledge for which we have already paid, we must surrender our feu to the lairds of learning.