I decided that it would be a great use of my time to read more research papers in computer science and mathematics.
I've never really done much in this direction, and I generally expected that I would be able to freely read what all these smart people have been working on.
It hadn't even begun to cross my mind that in fact research papers are sold, which means that for a typical paper, one can expect to pay $\$10-\$15$ each. Or, you can get a journal subscription. Initially, this doesn't seem like much, but, when you are trying to get a general idea of a field (i.e. skimming through lots of papers, concentrating on a few) it doesn't make much sense.
Of course, the expectation seems to be is that the university library has a subscription to the given journal, thus, the scientists may have the research papers for free. But, this assumes that anyone that is interested in research at all must be part of a university or some sort of technical library that stocks computer science journals.
This seems unbelievably counterproductive to me. I understand that scientists are just as human as the rest of us and need a paycheck (the larger the better), but isn't there a better way to do this than charge for research papers? It seems to be discouraging the flow of information in an environment where the information flow is the primary commodity.
In the 1500's, solving polynomials was all the rage. So, there were obviously a bunch of mathematicians in Europe pursuing it, e.g. Cardano and Bombelli. The most funny thing was that these men never shared their results with one another, they simply continued work in secrecy and challenged each other. This obviously seems rather odd to us now, right?
In reality, that's exactly the direction we're pushing to by charging for research papers (obviously not the same degree)!
Through incentives, we are discouraging researchers from sharing ideas and learning about new ones.
Not only this, charging for papers limits "outside" (i.e. not part of a university/academia) participation in science, which also seems rather weird, as though research was some old country club with limited admission.
I'm not really sure what to do about this problem, if its been solved already, or, how many misunderstandings I have about the system, but, if what I'm seeing is actually happening, we need to fix it.