Open Access News

News from the open access movement


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Contrasting FOSS and OA

Contrasting Open Source Software and Open Access, Plausible Accuracy, July 7, 2008.

... Open Source Software (OSS) ... is software which allows the public to view and edit the code that makes it work. The guts of the machine are allowed to be examined and perhaps tinkered with to make improvements or modifications, as the user sees fit. Most people these days use software that is at least somewhat open source, such as the Firefox web browser, or Wordpress (the software that runs this blog). ...

Open Access, the movement to remove price barriers from consumers of scientific knowledge, shares some philosophical roots with Open Source Software. Both aim to take something which has largely been controlled by for-profit corporations and held as proprietary in some way and open that up to a broader audience/participatory culture. The great thing about Open Access is that there is already a lower barrier to participation than there is for OSS. You donít have to be well-versed in a programming language to contribute. You can go rate a PLoS article, go add a protocol to OpenWetWare, or contribute to any of the other great web-based projects from your own desk in a matter of minutes. ...

Most people Iíve come across donít really care about whether or not their software is Open Source. ... These people donít worry so much about the philosophical reasons for making the code open source in the first place, and are even less likely than I am to worry about looking at the programming innards for themselves. A similar group of people will be critical for the widening acceptance of Open Access. People like family members of someone who has been diagnosed with an illness and wants to read the latest research. They donít really care about the fundamental navel-gazing that is OA vs. subscription firewalled, but they just want some solace and information on their loved oneís condition. ...