Partner or Perish

In academia, it is often stated that one must publish or perish but times have changed. We now live in an era of partner or perish. If this is not the case, then people like me who are all committed to the cause of open source are doomed. Doomed in a sense that we should be subscribing to the notion that sharing is key to levelling the playing fields and ensuring that all benefit. Therefore, if we believe this principle applies only for software, we need to be condemned!

Lets think about it. If we believe in the promise of open source, which translates to better quality, higher reliability, lower costs and freedom from any vendor. We should believe that these same rewards can be reaped in all areas of life if we work in partnership. If not that, we could contemplate why our parents and/or guardians made it their cause in life to instil in us that “sharing is caring”. I did contemplate the question myself and came up with a few interesting things. The first was conspiracy to rob me of my sweets. The second was that the dear old folks were locked in the dawn of the 70s. (A period of true social consciousness, and as I am told a time when good music was fashionable; a time in which the likes of John Lennon, Curtis Mayfield, Ottis Redding and Bob Marley through their music advocated for a united and peaceful world.)

After going through a few other “theories” of why sharing is possibly caring, I decided to trust in the wisdom embodied in clichés. I realised that I didn’t know any old adage or cliché that encourages one to do anything on their own. Therefore, putting emphasis on publish cannot possibly be acceptable. It should be all about partnering and publishing the best work that two or more minds can generate. Otherwise as academia we fail in our social responsibility to uphold good values. We fail also to appreciate why the business community has suddenly decided to value what they term strategic partnerships and therefore why there is much emphasis on creating synergies and thinking win-win.

For what it is worth, I honestly believe that de-emphasising publish would not result in fewer publications. I believe that by emphasising the need to partner we would in fact increase the publications output. Perhaps, I believe all this because I have been brain washed with old Sesotho sayings like “kopano ke matla”, “matsoho a hlatsoana”, “lets’oele le beta poho” ! (Translated: unity is power, hands wash each other, masses rein in a [raging] bull).

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