There’s something that diners, software, textbooks, and academic journals have in common: they are better when they are open, always. Whether you want to go to Denny’s at 3 AM, or want to read the results of a research study, you should be able to do that whenever you want, without restriction.
Last week in introduction to open education, we discussed open source software, open access, and open data. While I’m almost crippled by the amount of things I could say on all these topics, I want to first recommend reading The Cathedral and the Bazaar by Eric Raymond. Although reading the essay itself will provide a much deeper, eloquent, and knowledgable source for understanding the merits of open, I would like to attempt to highlight some the merits of open in different settings.
Open Source Software
- The sooner you get something out in the open, the sooner you will get feedback necessary for improvement
- The commons that you are a part of will provide support and members of that commons have meaningful contributions to make if they are afforded the opportunity
- Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow. This is Linus’ law as asserted by Raymond. Essentially, the more eyes that look at a problem, the quicker someone can find a solution.
- A community will form around interesting problems, and there is value in community beyond the ability of the members to produce a product
Open Access Journals
- Equitable access to research, often collected with public funds
- Authors can maintain the copyright of the work that they have created rather than handing over the copyright to a publisher
- The ability to create a larger body of literature surrounding important topics
- Expand the scale and reach of journal articles
- Allow for the greatest amount of people to not only read, but use and expand upon this knowledge
- Allowing data to do their job: reaching wide audiences and having their collection impact something
- Transparency in research
- Transparency in government dealings that are publicly funded
While these lists aren’t all encompassing, mutually exclusive or authoritative, it’s easy to see the potential benefits of more things being open, especially as it pertains to public knowledge. What alarmed me most when reading these articles was the amount of times something will claim to be open (see openwashing) , especially as it pertains to open access journals.
Peter Suber, paraphrasing the BBB (Budapest, Bethesda, Berlin) definition of Open Access states:
“By “open access” to this literature, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited.”
After doing a review of the “open access journals” in the field of educational technology, very few meet these standards. If we want to be proponents of open, we need to hold open to its defined standards instead of just throwing around the term open and hope it gains some traction. It’s a comforting thought, though, to know that we aren’t the only ones working on open.