Belated Happy 102nd Birthday to Prof. Ronald Coase with special #PDFtribute

Saturday, 19 January, 2013

Happy belated 102nd Birthday to Nobel Economics Laureate Professor Ronald Coase. Wishing professor Coase good health and all the best in 2013!

In 2009, I took the initiative to spend a few days to download, process, upload, transcribe (small part of), and time-code professor Coase‘s 2003 Coase Lecture (a massive .mov file) to share on YouTube (6 clips in a playlist) to allow interested people from around the world to watch and learn as a way to celebrate professor Coase‘s 99th birthday.

Here is the 2003 Coase Lecture by Ronald Coase – Part 1. Watch the other 5 parts via this YouTube playlist.

For the last few birthdays of professor Coase, I mainly reshare the above video clips (with a new text interview in 2011). This time around, I’ve taken a new initiative to honour professor Coase‘s 102nd birthday. You see, a few years ago I went to the University of Calgary Law Library to conduct some US patent research for a client. As a bonus/treat for myself, I spent some time to download quite a few academic papers by professor Coase.

To celebrate professor Coase‘s 102nd birthday, I’ve uploaded the following three important papers plus a bonus paper as a special gift to readers of professor Coase‘s ideas.

Here are the PDFs of the academic papers
1937 – Nature of the Firm
1959 – The Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
1974 – The Lighthouse in Economics

Bonus academic papers
– 1947 – The Origin of the Monopoly of Broadcasting in Great Britain

In the wise words of professor Coase,

“The only support I got was from my contemporaries. […] If this tale has any general significance, it is that new ideas are most likely to come from the young who are also the group most likely to recognize the significance of those ideas.”

I was inspired to upload these academics papers by the #PDFtribute movement to honour the 26 years young Aaron Swartz (1986 – 2013) who died partly as a result from his fight with the outdated and outmoded JSTOR system to make academic papers available for free for all.

For me personally, I received these important papers for free from the Law Library. And I see them (Firm, FCCLighthouse) deserve to be read by as many people as possible instead of under the messed up limited JSTOR manner. The bottom line, to me, by having these papers available by a single click here is that this save people’s physical travel time to go down to their local university libraries where these papers can be downloaded for free anyway!

It has not escaped my attention and noticed the paradox that The Lighthouse in Economics is a paper that disprove, with facts, the incorrect belief by many people (including my former MBA classmate who has a B.A. degree in Economics) that Lighthouse services cannot be charged thus has to be made freely available by the governments!

*** Concluding thoughts ***

I want to emphasize that I totally agree with the many academics in the #PDFtribute movement and Aaron that it is about time we in Canada and US require academic papers to be made publicly downloadable for FREE in perpetuity if any part (or whole) of their research funding come from any level of government (thus tax payers’ money, our money)!

Happy 102nd birthday professor Coase!

Goodbye Aaron, you left us far too soon!


My special gift to Ronald Coase for his 99th birthday

Saturday, 5 December, 2009

In some sense, my “gift” to Prof. Ronald Coase for his 99th birthday is “special”. More on this later.

For the last 20+ years of my life, many of my thinking has been shaped and influenced by Coase, and yet I have not met him in person. Of course, how much have I actually learned or understood remains a mystery. (big smile) Allow me to share two stories.

I remember some years ago during the first year of my MBA program, somehow the topic of lighthouse came up. And I, quite off-handedly, mentioned to my classmate (he majored in economics, and I majored in computer science) that lighthouse is usually given as an example of a public good but this categorization is actually wrong.

Well, to my surprise, my classmate insisted that, “No no no. Lighthouse is a public good and you cannot charge any money for the use of it.” After a minute or so of discussion, we got back to our schoolwork. To me, from that moment on, I realized I was lucky to have some special insights. I’ve learned Coase’s ideas, including those in “The Lighthouse in Economics” via Prof. Steven Cheung‘s articles in Chinese when I was attending high school in Hong Kong. I have learned the importance in asking questions. And try not to take things/”established facts” for granted.

In yet another MBA class, this time an ethics class. The professor asked a simple question, something like, “Why do we have ‘company’/’corporation’?” In hope to lead to some discussions about ethics (well, it was an ethics course after all). What my professor didn’t expect was me raising my hand and answered, “To reduce transaction cost.” :)

Now, without further delay, allow me to present my “special” and virtual gift to Prof. Coase. Wishing Prof. Coase a very happy 99th birthday (in advance) and good health for many more years to come.

My “special” “gift”

This gift is “special” because I think the best gift to give to someone like Prof. Coase, who has everything he needs in the world and likely every material thing he wants, is to “pay it forward“. Prof. Coase himself doesn’t really benefit from the gift itself, it is the people who may learn from Prof. Coase that are benefitting. So I am “paying it forward” or “gifting” forward.

As you may know, the wonderfully insightful (and often humorous) 2003 Coase Lecture was delivered by Prof. Coase himself. And the full lecture has been available online via Coase Institute for free download and viewing for some time now. Unfortunately, unless the person has an extremely fast internet connection and have patient to wait for an hour or two or more, downloading the 525MB quicktime video file (this is very big) can still be quite a challenge. And for those that have slower regular internet access, viewing the lecture is practically impossible.

So as a “special” gift to Prof. Coase for his 99th birthday, I have taken the initiative and spent most of the night (well, actually last night and now well into the wee hours) to compress and upload the video onto YouTube.

This “gift” is “special” also because I’ve bent quite a few rules. Since this is a gift for Prof. Coase’s 99th birthday, I hope the “deciders” don’t mind and will let me give this “gift”. :)

Hope you enjoy the 2003 Coase Lecture (in 6 parts).

Read the rest of this entry »


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