Open content has been around almost as long as I’ve been alive. The purpose of this statement isn’t to make David Wiley feel old, and it isn’t to undercut my authority by revealing how young I am, but rather it is a statement of comfort.
I first became aware of open content when I was sixteen, and it drew me in. The idea of open, a commons, sharing, and the community that forms around openness captivated me. I saw pieces of content I created being shared, getting feedback on them, and I watched them improve in ways I never would have had I not shared. I formed relationships that I would not have had I not been willing to share. As I pursued a college education, I moved on, and I didn’t spend too much time thinking about open as it pertains to education. I can’t tell you the moment that I cam back to open, my significant learning experiences, or decided to take a path that brought me where I am today, but I can tell you one thing: open was compelling and open is the reason I am where I am today. It’s comforting to know that open has been around long enough to draw a sixteen year old into researching OER.
One of the biggest questions regarding OER is sustainability. I understand that there are a slew of issues that contribute to questions of sustainability, including questions about the economic sustainability, but I think that the lifespan of OER says something about sustainability. If open content and the principles of open can withstand the lifespan of one graduate researcher, and draw me back in after years of open on the back burner, there is something to be said for the sustainability of OER.
Watching the history of open content and pondering sustainability also got me thinking about quality. If we refer back to LInus’s Law that given enough eyes, all bugs are shallow, having open content out in the open for so many years has allowed for constant improvement, that open content has grown rapidly and in quality much quicker than something that hadn’t been out there, in the open, for constant feedback and improvement.
While I would love to create a meme series of the greying of David’s hair that has accompanied the stress and timespan of the life of the open content movement, I don’t think there’s enough out there in the open to generate such a creation. I will leave with this meme and a comforting reminder that for every addition to the next generation of humans, they are born into a world where people are working towards greater access to knowledge as a public good. I, for one, am grateful to have lived a life where time has passed almost parallel to OER.