Michael Williams (Michael@mwilliam.u-net.com)
Sun, 14 Sep 1997 10:55:51 -0700 (PDT)

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The discussion following Jerry's latest archives proposal, imho, has
an air on unreality. Where someone else uses our work - up to and
including quoting bits of it - we want to be given credit. On the
other hand, we don't want to be misrepresented by quotes out of
context, quoting of preliminary work or conversations, etc. At the
same time, I assume, each of us wishes to accord the same courtesy to
other authors: credit when due, and care to try to avoid

E-media are new, and sui generis. But what are they most like? My own
view - and judging from their various comments in discussion of this
issue now and earlier, some other share it - is that they are most
like thoughtful conversations. I particularly like Duncan's
invocation of a coffee-house conversation.

Now, there exists already customary practice for citing (ie crediting
without misrepresenting) conversation: viz a note such as "Karl Marx
brought this to my attention in conversation."; or "Similar points
were debated at a seminar in Trieste, involving, amongst others,
Aristotle, Georg Hegel, David Ricardo and Queen Elizabeth II." Now
for OPE-L members, this seems to be the appropriate way of
acknowledging the insights we have gained from our OPE-L

But the archives? Well, on reflection, I would suggest that they be
considered as the records of a coffee-house conversation. They should
be open, users who gain insight from them should be expected to
record in general terms that they have done so ("My thinking on this
matter has been helped by the conversation on the subject primarily
between Geert Reuten, Ajit Singh and Andrew Kliman, on OPE-L between
April and July 1996."). To satisfy those most worried about
misrepresentation, etc, direct quotes, or attribution of specific
positions could be banned. This may be too strong - I don't 'ban'
anyone from citing what I say in other semi- public forums (at an
academic seminar, for example), but nor do I feel constrained to
acknowledge let alone defend any statement thus cited.

As to whether the* list* should be open? Well, I think Andrew's
reference to it appearing to tohers like a secret cabal is a bit ott
(that's 'Over The Top'). As I understand it,OPE-L is restricted in
numbers in order to make it more manageable and focussed than
soi-disant 'open' lists. (On subscribing to the new Economic
Sociology, <EconSoc>, list, the rules for new members forbade me from
indulging in 'political posturing' - as if I would!) Ours is, imo, an
entirely pragmatic and unthreatening rationale - and anyone who
thinks otherwise (except you, of course, Andrew - you're 'one of us'
..) would appear to be suffering from some kind of secret police
style paranoia.

But I am fairly easy about opening up the list, if that was
considered helpful. But hey, if it ain't broke, don't fix it ... .
"Books are Weapons"

Dr Michael Williams
Department of Economics Home:
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De Montfort University Southampton
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