Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

OA math, not meth

Martin Smith is the coordinator of a Canadian methamphetamine treatment community called Camp One.  Its motto is Math Not Meth.  He wrote to me recently to explain that

Camp One is successful because Open Access is successful. We are the largest consumer on the arXiv server, averaging 250 downloads a week....

Here's a little more background from the Math Not Meth blog:

MATH Not METH is based on a premise developed in 1994 to break a cycle of Heroin addiction within an institutional setting. The premise was a simple one – If you can divert the attention of an addict away from the ‘Game of Getting’ and focused on the ‘Game of Knowledge’ the Pleasure associated with the ‘Score’ followed by the inevitable disappointment in the High, is replaced by the quest for Knowledge.

And a little more from one of Smith's emails:

Camp One started in 2003 to answer the need for a sanctuary for people who had made it back from the abyss that is Chrystal Meth addiction. It is a 196 Room Float Camp at the Moya Bay Bulkhead at Hesguait on Nootka Sound near Gold River British Columbia. The facility is fully integrated with a 960 processor Xserve core and 256 PowerBook workstations. There is a resident Mathematica 6 Program as well as Open implementations of several other of the major programs available for grid infrastructures. We also have a 32 Tbyte Raid array which has a growing library of Open Software and educational resources which are growing exponentially as people discover the benefit of Learning for the Joy of it, rather than a means to an end....

Finally, some detail from a recent Smith comment on another blog:

Allow me to share what the profound power of Open Access can achieve –

‘When ‘Dave’ first asked me for help...he had a $250.00/Day Meth habit. I introduced him to the Zome tool and hooked him up to my network. In time he became interested in High Energy Physics and devoured everything available from the folks at SLAC, Fermilab, and CERN. He the discovered arXiv and more recently Eprintweb at Cornell and read every dispatch, sometimes sent running to our data miner to find out more on topics he could not grasp.

‘He discovered he could Email the authors of the reports and started asking questions about things he could not understand. A sort of Adhoc support group formed around the questions he asked because he had asked questions they had not thought of. This relationship as grown to the point that ‘Dave’ has been invited to the first firing of the LHC next Spring at CERN. All this from a young man who I was told by the local Judicial authorities was a dead loss.’

Open Access has a thus affected the people I have contact with and as I have said in a few other venues, anyone who opposes it, can either Lead, Follow or Get out of the way, for change, it comes.

Comment.  This is a remarkable story.  I'm used to hearing about unexpected benefits of OA, but this one tops my list.  Bravo to Martin Smith and all the good people at Camp One.