Last week also demonstrated another benefit of Open Access. Not just that everyone could re-use the images from the Ida paper without wondering “is this too much for Fair Use principles?” (yes, I have seen people re-post every single image from the paper into their articles/posts, plus lengthy excerpts of text), but people could do fun stuff to them as well, and even use it for commercial endeavors.
And I am not talking just about the Google logo last Wednesday!
First to make a creative reuse of an article image was Ed Yong in his brilliant and hilariously funny post Darwinius changes everything in which Ida appears on toast:
Richard Carter was next, depicting Ida playing saxophone:
But then, there is also a way to use the hype to counteract hype…and make some money in the process. The first store I saw that is selling t-shirts and other merchandise with Ida on it was this one. You can get This Mug Which is Not Missing:
And you can find other t-shirt designs in this shop and this shop and this shop – perhaps walking around wearing one of these will be a conversation starter, or will get a kid to want to become a palaeontologist when s/he grows up, who knows.
Now, if I were a palaeontologist and got my hands on such a spectacular, one-in-a-lifetime fossil, I’d milk it for all it’s worth, too. I’d certainly not put all of the analysis in one paper – then what, retire? I’d also publish the description first, with a lot of fanfare if I could get it. Then I would spread all sorts of other analyses over several more papers – as it appears they are planning to do – including the cladistic analysis for those who think science without numbers is not scientific enough (forgetting the GIGO law and that every single thing input into the cladistic analysis programs is an assumption – I was astonished when I took a dinosaur class with Dale Russell some 10 years ago how the palaeontologists’ assumptions about traits – which are hard to evolve, thus likely to show up only once, and which are easy to evolve, thus could re-appear in independent lineages over and over again – differed dramatically from my thinking of developmental switches; who knows who was right about any trait – we both had our assumptions).
Now, I really hope they choose Open Access venues (perhaps PLoS ONE again) for the subsequent papers so the entrepreneurs in the future can print t-shirts with cladograms – imagine the street-fights inevitably breaking out between t-shirt wearing palaeontologists arguing the correctness of the depicted tree! Can’t do that if the journal holds the copyright to the images!