Friday, September 09, 2005

Open Convergence ... Mention the term open source, open access, or open science to someone, and even in today's information age you're likely to get a blank stare. Maybe a vague idea of what they are, or a hesitant reference to "that Linux thing". But the names of Linus Torvalds or Richard Stallman, the closest figures the open source movement has to Bill Gates, almost certainly will not be cited.

Part of that ignorance has to do with the anonymous nature of "open" productivity, but it owes more, I think, to the antagonism that long dominated the relationship between a predominantly academic open access community and a society at large organized by proprietary law. Simply put, both open source and open access were long viewed as threats to the core principles of capitalist enterprise. As a result, it really wasn't until IBM began airing its Linux ads last year that their relationship was popularly understood as complimentary rather than inimical.

I mention all that because for those of you interested in getting caught up on the history of the open access movement, I'd recommend this paper by John Willinsky. Thanks to Lawrence Lessig I just came across the article today, and I have to say it does a fantastic job of weaving together the recent convergence of the open source, open access, and open science movements.

I should also note that it starts with a remarkable comparison between the convergence today and the intellectual, political, and scientific convergence of late 17th century England. For someone like myself -- who has nothing better to do on a Friday night -- that's about as good as it gets.


Post a Comment

<< Home