Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

John Ziman, 1925-2005

John Ziman died on January 2. His vision of science, and its need for collaborative work and open communication, inspired many of today's open-access advocates. For details on his life and career, see Jerry Ravetz' obituary in The Guardian.

Jan Velterop, publisher of BioMed Central, wrote this testimonial to Ziman: 'May his insight that "scientific research is essentially a corporate activity, in which the community achieves far more that the sum of the efforts of its members" and his observation that "the failure to be aware of some small piece of published knowledge may be very costly indeed" (both expressed in the 1960's, well before the internet made open access a potential reality), live on and motivate many to help bring about open access to science.'

Here's an excerpt from Ziman's book, Public Knowledge (Cambridge, 1968): 'There is not much doubt that, in a purely factual sense, Science is a form of Public Knowledge. The whole procedure of publication and citation, the abhorrence of secrecy, the libraries full of periodicals and treatises,...Freedom to learn and freedom to teach, cosmopolitanism and internationalism, conferences, abstract journals and encyclopedias -- all are in the service of the mutual exchange of information. If there is, indeed, a technical crisis in these procedures,...then Science itself will be severely hampered....The absolute need to communicate one's findings, and to make them acceptable to other people, determines their intellectual forms.'