Six impossible things before breakfast.

A library science student's perspective on life, the universe, and everything.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Information issues on TV

I was very amused to see a current information "hot topic" play a role in an episode of ABC's detective show, Castle. For people who don't know the show, it's an entertaining story about a serious and determined NYPD detective named Kate Beckett and the spontaneous, conspiracy-loving best-selling author, Richard Castle, who (after following Beckett around during the first season as "research" for his new book) becomes essentially her partner in solving increasingly convoluted crimes.

In the episode "Head Case," a scientist breaks with his financial backer when he makes the decision to publish his research online in an open source format after that sponsor has spent years investing thousands of dollars in the doctor's studies. When the scientist is murdered shortly after the breach, the investor's potential loss of profits from the future publication of the research findings makes him the team's first murder suspect. With all the encouragement for professors and researchers to choose open source publishing over traditional journals in an effort to combat the skyrocketing prices of scholarly serials (and the "publish or perish" mentality associated with tenure-seeking), the effects of open source on the role of financial supporters and funding will become increasingly important. In these shows the first suspect is rarely ever the actual culprit and this theory of motive is quickly replaced by the next plot twist, but I thought it was entertaining to see the consequences of open source portrayed so dramatically on television.

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