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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Do we need a Repositories Plan B?

Andy Powell, Repository Plan B? eFoundations, June 15, 2007.  Excerpt:

"The most successful people are those who are good at Plan B."
-- James Yorke, mathematician

My post yesterday about real vs. fake sharing in the context of services like Facebook, coupled with my ongoing thinking about what is or isn't happening in the repositories space has made me begin to wonder.

Pete said to me yesterday...that he feels very reluctant these days to put content into any service that doesn't spit it back out at you as an RSS or Atom feed.

I completely concur....

But what does this mean for repositories?

Imagine a world in which we talked about 'research blogs' or 'research feeds' rather than 'repositories', in which the 'open access' policy rhetoric used phrases like 'resource outputs should be made freely available on the Web' rather than 'research outputs should be deposited into institutional or other repositories', and in which accepted 'good practice' for researchers was simply to make research output freely available on the Web with an associated RSS or Atom feed.

Wouldn't that be a more intuitive and productive scholarly communication environment than what we have currently? ...

Since [arXiv], we have largely attempted to position repositories as institutional services, for institutional reasons, in the belief that metadata harvesting will allow us to aggregate stuff back together in meaningful ways.

Is it working?  I'm not convinced.  Yes, we can acknowledge our failure to put services in place that people find intuitively compelling to use by trying to force their use thru institutional or national mandates?  But wouldn't it be nicer to build services that people actually came to willingly?

In short, do we need a repositories plan B?