by Eszter Hargittai on May 24, 2004

Remember our discussion of the Erdõs number and the eBay bid that followed? The Chronicle is on the story, sort of. There is not one word about humor in that whole piece.. or that it all started out with a light-hearted discussion on blogs. Talk about taking a story out of context. I realize Bill may have posted the bid in all seriousness, but I think a better coverage would have included a mention of how it all came about, which is perfectly clear from his initial post. One interesting point gets no mention in the piece: John’s suggestion that offering co-authorship for free and no labor may be an even better deal for those with a high Erdõs number. (He meant it as a joke! I better add that again before John gets accused of wanting to undercut the system.) I guess in the context of The Chronicle piece that’s less scandelous.. and thus not worthy of coverage. I think I’ll go read The Onion now. [Thanks to my friend Gabriel for pointing me to The Chronicle piece.]

UPDATE: Read about Bill Tozier’s reactions here. Also, to clarify, the article does say in the beginning “The auction began as a bit of fun,” but if you read the whole piece, that part is soon forgotten.



Matt Weiner 05.24.04 at 8:13 pm

Perhaps the Chron article has been updated, but it does talk about the light-hearted origins of the auction now.
“Nobody should pay anybody for writing or collaborating on a scientific project,” says Burillo, the guy who’s trying to subvert the auction.
A lot of grad students are going to be out on the street. My co-written paper originated with work I did as my advisor’s research assistant, for which I was paid! I am clearly a cancer on the academy.


Bill Tozier 05.25.04 at 4:41 am

I don’t know where to even begin. Well, I did write a little comment at Erin O’Connor’s blog.

It’s not a bad article. But yet it’s really quite deeply wrong. I wonder if perhaps the editor got a hand in and emphasized my iconoclastic nature.

I’m framing an actual factual account, complete with real motivation and slightly reasonable observations about what it means, to be posted sometime… well, as soon as my head stops shaking.

It makes it hard to type, you see.

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