Sci-Hub and Alexandra Basic Information
source link: https://www.tuicool.com/articles/hit/Nz2qUzN
Go to the source link to view the article. You can view the picture content, updated content and better typesetting reading experience. If the link is broken, please click the button below to view the snapshot at that time.
I decided to make a quick summary of facts about Sci-Hub and myself, because in our times you cannot fully trust articles published in media, Wikipedia pages. Well, they do present facts about Sci-Hub that are correct in general, but at the same time there are mistakes in minor details. These details however create incorrect impression about the project. So, I want to make a quick look-up page with basic information about Sci-Hub and me that is reliable and first-hand.
I will add more information to this page later
Who is Alexandra Elbakyan and how the project started?
I’m a computer programmer behind Sci-Hub. I created the website in September, 2011 in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
In Kazakhstan, my homeland, access to LiveJournal website was blocked by government. LiveJournal is a blog system, where anyone can write their articles. Hence to access LiveJournal, I had to use ‘anonymizer’ websites. You go to such a website, paste a link to any webpage — for example LiveJournal article — and you can open it.
So I got the idea: we need the same for research articles. It took me two or three days to write the code and upload it to free PHP webhosting. And so Sci-Hub got live, and started processing requests from users (it almost immediately became very popular)
Indeed, I had a dream to write software for easy access to research since 2009. I was an undergaduate student in Kazakh National Tech University and got into problems while trying to access research papers needed for my research project. So I thought it would be cool to write some software to automatically download such papers. However in 2009 it was only a blurry non-specific idea.
I learned HTML at age 12 using free tutorial avaiable on the Internet. I started programming in high school and first learned PHP, Delphi and Assembly programming languages on myself, before I got to the university. I was interested in information security and entered Kazakh National Tech University in 2005 to study Information Technologies with a security speicalization. Here I improved programing skills a lot.
After graduation I wanted to continue in science and do research in bioengineering. Apart from computer and information technologies, I was interested in neuroscience, consciousness and artificial intelligence and while studying at university, collected a lot of ebooks on that topic. They were all downloaded from ‘pirate’ websites.
So in 2010 I tried to work in a few neuroscience research labs in Russia, Germany and United States. I read online that you can write to the professor and s/he will accept you to their lab. So I did the same and that’s how I got into laboratories. Here I also did programming, but for bioengineering applications. However I found it boring. I wanted to work on greater things: such as the Global Brain. I even was lucky to give a talk on that topic in H+ transhumanist conference in Harvard.
In 2011 I returned to Kazakhstan and worked for a few months as a freelance web-programmer. I created websites and applications on PHP language. And finally I was able to code Sci-Hub.
Was there any funding for Sci-Hub?
There was no. Sci-Hub started by accident, there was no Big Plan behind it. After a couple of months, users asked to add some option to donate and help the project. Sci-Hub is living on the donations for years. There were some big donations, but there was never any specific funding behind the project.
Was any government involved in creating Sci-Hub?
I was interested in politics and always supported communism, but Sci-Hub has always been a personal project. Even if some government helped, for example by sending anonymous donations, it was completely invisible to me. Using the Occam’s razor, no government was involved.
Is there any team behind Sci-Hub?
No, and never was. I do all the programming and server configuration myself. I also do all the Twitter posts and communication with users and media. I use Google to search for pictures to use on the website and social networks.
There a people though, who create mirrors of Sci-Hub articles database. I run a few mirrors and other mirrors are run independently, and Sci-Hub also uses accounts to access library resources provided by others.
What is the relationship between Sci-Hub and Library Genesis projects?
Sci-Hub started in 2011 as a web application to download research article requested by user, using library accounts. There was no storage for downloaded articles. In 2012 Library Genesis, that collected e-books, wanted to collect research articles too and started saving papers downloaded by Sci-Hub to their database.
In 2013 the number of requests to Sci-Hub grew, and I re-programmed Sci-Hub to check if article was already stored in Libgen; if it was, the user was redirected to Libgen database.
In 2014, I copied articles collected by Libgen to create Sci-Hub’s own database. I did not fork Libgen: only the papers PDF files were copied. Then I configured new servers to serve these files to Sci-Hub users.
Today Sci-Hub uses it’s own servers to store research papers. However all new articles downloaded by Sci-Hub are mirrored to Library Genesis databases too. Libgen also publishes torrents to download these papers.
… and question that is always asked:
How is Sci-Hub different from Aaron Swartz?
How different between each other are PLoS One, arXiv.org and Budapest Open Access Initiative? All these projects work on providing free access to research papers, however it is easy to see: there are very different between each other.
Sci-Hub is a web application that can open research paper requested by user, from database or by downloading it. All downloaded papers are collected in database. The database grew for a few years.
A. Swartz, as far as I know his story, made an attempt to download a few million research papers from JSTOR website in 2010. The download was noticed and he got arrested. Perhaps he wanted to upload all downloaded research articles on torrent. In 2009 I did similar things: I downloaded Nature and Scientific American journal volumes and uploaded them on ‘pirate’ websites where people share e-books, and I also shared there volumes on torrents. A lot of people were doing it then.
In 2004 I even programmed a PHP script that could automatically download paywalled e-books from MIT Cognet website, using a bug. Even though it sounds very similar to Sci-Hub, it is completely different in design and function.
Before Sci-Hub, there were a lot of illegal websites where any person could download e-books for free. Sci-Hub became the first website where you can download articles on a massive scale, not e-books only. Before Sci-Hub there were other websites to get research papers for free but they were also different from Sci-Hub in design.
There are similarities with A. Swartz but to say they are the same is some kind of an illusion that arises from lack of understanding of complexity. The similar illusion is to think that all black people, or all Chinese people are the same, because white person cannot easily recognize their faces.
Aggregate valuable and interesting links.
Joyk means Joy of geeK