29 Jan 2013

Improving utility performance #pdftribute

Just over a year ago, I gave a talk, "creating utility competition via performance-focused insurance" that was based on this paper.

One of the editors of an IWA publication, Water Utility Management International, asked me to write a version that would be easier for his readers to understand. After a considerable delay, I gave them a shorter and crisper version.

The article was published about a month ago, but it came with this annoying note:
Please find attached your article from the December issue of Water Utility Management International. Please be aware that this should not be made available for download.
That was the first time I heard that my paper would cost $38 to download.

I was also a bit upset that they had typeset my wording (with little editing, no peer review and a few typos) and then turned it around for sale via an outlet that few water geeks have even heard of, let alone people in the wider world. Thirty-eight bucks basically means that NOBODY is going to read my article, so I asked WUMI for a change:
FYI, my policy on publications is the following:
  1. Either I publish for free but post the piece on my website
  2. Or I get paid and do not (unless given permission).
Since this is a case of (1), I posted it on my personal website and will send it to people who need to see these kinds of arguments.
To this, the editor replied:
(1) can apply, but it should be your text only, not the PDF we prepared.
Although I did not sign away my copyright and feel quite annoyed that WUMI has basically locked up my work in the PDF they prepared, I decided to take the high road. So I spent three hours (yes, that's how unproductive this system is) to prepare my own PDF (some words have slipped into different columns, but I fixed the typos).

So here's your free copy [pdf]:
Zetland, David (2012). Performance insurance: rewarding managers for better service. Water Utility Management International 7(4):13-16.

Abstract: Water utilities need to improve their performance in ways that are transparent and obvious to customers. David Zetland explains how performance insurance can improve outcomes for customers, ease the workload on regulators, and reward good managers.
FYI, you can download ALL my academic work and popular writing for free. Only my book will cost you ($10-20), and you can even read its first chapters [pdf] for free.*

Bottom Line: Authors want people to READ their words and debate their ideas. Authors can charge for access to their work, but publishers have no (moral) right to charge for access when authors do not want them to. Aaron Swartz was is right.

* As in beer [previous posts on open access], but I am VERY much into free speech :)