Archive for the 'Economics' Category

Printed Book Killed the Internet Star

I just came across [this Kimi’s post] and posted the link in there to my Facebook account, and I thought it was a good idea to also post some of my comments there in here.

Firstly, I would like to introduce [this article]. My opinion seems to be somewhere in between, and there are aspects of just on both sides. On one hand, indeed websites like this fail to financially recognise the original authors. But on the other hand, shutting down these websites kill scholars all around the world, especially outside the first-world countries.

I always believe that education is expensive. Doing research is expensive. Collecting papers is expensive. Analysing them is also expensive. Writing a book based on them is even more expensive. This is the effort which websites like this don’t appreciate. But as I said, scholars all around the world are murdered for not being able to purchase it. Their dreams are being crushed.

My ideal thought is to keep research and book-authoring expensive so as to maintain their qualities, but make it available in locally acceptable prices. Prices in USA will be different from prices in, let’s say, Timor Leste. But as I said, this is an ideal thought. I don’t know yet how we can make such system. Or even its possibility. How can we sell an originally USD 100 book in IDR 20,000? Using government subsidy? I am not even sure whether they are thinking about this problem. Moreover, we are talking about the international community in which one country does not have any responsibility for citizens of other countries.

My solution for now, especially for those who don’t have enough money to buy 5 x USD 100 books every semester, although I completely doubt its legality, is to buy books collectively. One hundred people can buy one book on Calculus and make 100 copies, one for each. You still need to pay, but it will be much cheaper. So, this is a trade-off for both publishers and buyers. Publishers won’t get as much money as they should have received, but at least the consumers make some contributions to them. And if you live in countries like my home country of Indonesia, I am quite sure that nobody will trace you for making numerous copies of a whole book. Anyway, we had been doing this for a long time.

BTW I am not sure whether book publishers take these people in third-world countries into account when calculating their potential revenues. They have never bought many, it seems to me. Even in the library of the faculty of the university where I used to study, you can find many copied books. A lot of them. So what I am trying to say is, is it a big loss for publishers when we do this?

Putting things aside, that’s why I always greatly appreciate authors who make some versions of their books available for free online. You can find an example here: [Planning Algorithms] by Steven M. LaValle.

The title is a homage to this classic song from The Buggles:

This is a recurring theme, when a new technology replaces older ones. Earlier this month we saw [the printed versions of Encyclopaedia Britannica being stopped, mainly due to the company’s lost to the emergence of online encyclopedias like Wikipedia]. I dub this “internet killed the printed book star”. What I bring in this post is the exact opposite, in which “printed book killed the internet star”.

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Cynicism

Preliminary: Profesional-profesional Hot Indonesia di Medan Global

So here goes my cynicism. I am just wondering, whether those developing countries also make compilations of their citizens who are globally successful in their jobs, at least in this modern post-WWII era, and also talk about these people in seminars, mailing lists or daily chit-chats. Without even doing that, famous Chinese and Indian people have been significantly acknowledged in big universities and corporates, whereas the Japanese contribute scientifically, culturally and economically from their homeland.

Let me make my points clearer.

  1. There are only a few numbers of Indonesians who can make international breakthroughs, such that this kind of list can be quite easily created, in which Nelson Tansu is regularly featured. Can you imagine a list of internationally successful Indian or Chinese people?
  2. Inferiority complex, such that you need to boost the spirit of your countrymen by writing this stuff.

Oh yeah right, we are indeed a great nation. *whistling*

Now, you may ask me, “are you not proud of them?” Well, I might be wrong, but there are only 2 possible answers to this. One, yes, just like how I admire any other foreign people who were poverty-stricken and used to have limited access to information and chances, but can make their ways to stardom. Two, no, since I am not their relatives, neither do I take part in their success stories. Really, I don’t understand how one can relate these stories to nationalism, to how you can be proud of them and your nation. I mean, there must be some missing points that I overlook.

On a more positive note, however, at least in academia, there is a rising number of Indonesian graduate students in foreign institutes who desire to play the game at international level. It is indeed too late, as countries like China, India, Singapore and Taiwan have been sending their brightest minds to the world for decades, but yeah, hopefully we can hear more great Indonesian names in 10-30 years. 🙂

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On a more negative note, I am concerned with the rise of religious fundamentalism and ridiculous demonstrations mostly associated to university students. Ladies and gentlemen, here are your future leaders. 🙂

PayPal and eBay

Jadi ini hari pertama saya berurusan dengan PayPal dan eBay. Saya tadinya ingin beli barang yang tidak tersedia di toko-toko di pulau yang saya tinggali ini, jadi saya berpikit untuk membeli via internet. Karena situs resmi perusahaan manufakturnya hanya melayani shipping ke US, saya mencari info di internet dan menemukan bahwa barang itu bisa dibeli di eBay. Teman saya yang lulusan Ekonomi Universitas Groningen ini bilang kalau transaksi di eBay lebih aman kalau membayar lewat Paypal. Dari awal saya sudah cemas dan was-was. Saya selalu khawatir setiap kali bertransaksi lewat internet, seperti waktu membeli tiket konser NIN maupun beli tiket pesawat buat pulang kampung. Bayangkan: saya tidak bertatap muka dengan pemberi jasa! Dan barang bukti cuma beberapa kata yang tertulis di layar komputer. Bagaimana kalau transaksi gagal? Bagaimana kalau ini scam? Saya tidak yakin dengan teknologi! Dan kecemasan menjadi-jadi ketika saya lupa membaca langkah-langkah transfer secara detil dan lupa memasukkan nomer rekening bank sebelum mentransfer uang ke Paypal! Panik, saya buru-buru memasukkan nomor rekening ke Paypal, dan timbul masalah lain: saya ditanyai kode institusi dan cabang bank saya! Saya cari di halaman internet banking di situs bank saya, tidak ada! Googling ke sana kemari, akhirnya sampai di sebuah forum yang memasang link menuju suatu file di sebuah bank yang memuat daftar nomor tersebut, dan ini saya masukkan ke halaman account saya di Paypal. Kepanikan berkurang. Tapi ya itu, saya masih ga ngerti hasilnya.

Yah, harap maklum deh, dari desa. Boro-boro internet banking, orang tua saya ga ada yang punya kartu debit maupun kredit. Pengalaman pertama. Sepertinya saya akan menunda beli barang ini sampai duit yang saya transfer itu sampai ke Paypal, atau di-reject dan kembali ke account saya (walaupun mungkin dengan potongan “beaya kegagalan transfer”…yah anggap saja ongkos belajar…sangat murah untuk pelajaran berharga). Kalau sukses, 2-3 hari kerja, tapi kalau gagal, bisa sampai 4 minggu. Saya pingin tahu cara kerja Paypal dulu.

This is why I hate Economics. It is very very very complicated. Quantum Physics is much easier to understand than Economics. Anyway, thanks to my friend yang selalu mengetes dengan melakukan transfer dengan jumlah kecil terlebih dahulu itu, dan menemani saya dalam masa kepanikan.

UPDATE: DUITE MLEBU!!!! ORA SIDO BERKABUNG!!!


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