Oct 24

There’s a ton of activity around the web for Open Access Week 2012. There’s eleventymillion events in person and online around the world for you to engage in.

I’m not doing any, for the first time in a long time. The OA movement is running downhill now, for real. Despite the squeals of those who would defend a broken business model tied to a broken access model, this one’s pretty much over. The question isn’t “if” open access, it’s “how” open access.

OA isn’t going to be pretty, just as the old system wasn’t pretty. Using the flaws of the publishing industry itself as a rationale to ration access is a weak strawman - conflicts of interest and hucksters flacking bad journals aren’t exactly an invention of open access. They’re part of publishing.

But Open Access means vastly more readers, and wider distribution of knowledge driven by science. And in the end, that point trumps all - especially given the public investment made by taxpayers in science. There is no constitutional protection for industries disrupted by network effects. Just ask Borders.

Anyhow. This year’s been a weird year for me in OA. I’m not working in the heart of the movement, having moved over to try to make it easy to donate your data to science instead. But I did help poke a stick in the White House’s eye with the Access2Research petition, for which we are still awaiting a reply.

Honestly, once August came and went I gave up hope of hearing anything before the election. The news cycles in a presidential election, especially one as taut as this one, magnify everything. An OA policy would’ve been jumped on by the Romney campaign, quoting those Elsevier stock hits as American job losses on the way. I remain very hopeful that the answer when it comes is a policy extending the NIH public access policy across all federal agencies but I’ve always been willing to believe.

The extension of the policy is the natural end game for OA in the US from a taxpayer perspective. It’s not the end of the movement though.

Now we need to avoid fragmentation. We need ORCID to actually not just mint identifiers, but itself act like an open organization (give us the freaking source code already, ok?). We need more entrepreneurs starting new publishing businesses, and testing new business models. We need big publishers to recognize the opportunity - to be the IBM/open source of the space.

And we need some acknowledgment that licensing, in the end, is really important. If it ain’t CC-BY, it ain’t compliant with the community definitions of OA. It’s better than no access at all, but we should never, ever trade away our rights in return for free stuff, even if that free stuff is knowledge. 

Congrats all on a great year, and here’s hoping I get a good excuse to bust out the Snoopy Dance sometime in November.

2 Notes

  1. del-fi posted this