Evolutionarily Stable Strategies

[This comment was written before I read Richard Poynder’s Interview of Tim Gowers. Having posted this, I will now go on to read the interview and make my comments in the next posting.]

I don’t know about Richard, but I have not despaired of green, ot green mandates; I’ve just grown tired of waiting.

I don’t see pre-emptive gold (i.e., pre-green “fool’s gold”) as an alternative but as just another delay factor, the principal delay factor being human sluggishness. 

And I think the notion of a “flip” to fool’s gold is incoherent — an “evolutionary unstable strategy,” bound to undo itself: not only because it requires self-sacrificial double-payment locally as well as unrealistic collaboration among nations, institutions, funders, fields and publishers globally, but because the day after it was miraculously (and hypothetically) attained globally it would immediately invite defection (from nations, institutions, funders, and fields) to save money (invasion by the “cheater strategy”). Subscriptions and gold OA “memberships” are simply incommensurable. 

The only evolutionarily stable strategy is offloading all but one of the things that publishers traditionally do onto green OA repositories, leaving only the service of peer review to be paid for as fair-gold OA. 

But that requires universal green OA first, not flipped pre-emptive fool’s gold. 

It will all eventually sort itself out that way after a huge series of false-starts. My loss of patience is not just with the needless loss of time but with the boringly repetitious nature of the recurrent false starts. I’d say my last five years, at the very least, have been spent just repeating myself in the face of the very same naive bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and non-viable non-starters. Locally in space and time, some people sometimes listened to my objections and my alternative strategy, but globally the very same non-starters kept popping up, independently.

So (with an occasional exception like this) I’ve stopped preaching. Time will either show that I was wrong or, like evolution, it will undo the maladaptive strategies and stumble blindly, but inevitably toward the stable strategy (which also happens to be the optimal one): universal green first, then a rapid downsizing and transition to scalable, affordable, sustainable fair-gold. Amen.