Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Access to knowledge as a public good

Danah Boyd, Knowledge Access as a Public Good, Britannica Blog, June 27, 2007.

...I entered the academy because I believe in knowledge production and dissemination....I want to help people gain access to information in the hopes that they can create knowledge that is valuable for everyone.  I have lost faith in traditional organizations leading the way to mass access and am thus always on the lookout for innovative models to produce and distribute knowledge....

Knowledge is not static, but traditional publishing models assume that it can be captured and frozen for consumption.  What does that teach children about knowledge?  Captured knowledge makes sense when the only opportunity for dissemination is through distributing physical artifacts, but this is no longer the case.  Now that we can get information to people faster and with greater barriers, why should we support the erection of barriers? ...

Why are we telling our students not to use Wikipedia rather than educating them about how Wikipedia works?  Sitting in front of us is an ideal opportunity to talk about how knowledge is produced, how information is disseminated, how ideas are shared....

Personally, I hold these truths to be self-evident, and Id rather see us put in the effort to make Wikipedia an astounding resource that can be used by all people than to try to dismantle it simply because it means change.

Comment.  So far, so good.  My only criticism is that Boyd focuses on Wikipedia and seems unaware of the wider world of open access to peer-reviewed research.