Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Stimulus for cyberinfrastructure

James Boyle, What the information superhighways aren’t built of..., Financial Times, April 17, 2009. (Thanks to Lawrence Lessig.)

... We know that the United States’ experiments with freely providing publicly generated data -- on everything from weather to roads to navigation -- yield an incredible economic return. More than 30-fold by some estimates. We know that investment in basic science can provide stellar multipliers.

Some scholars have been arguing that the architecture of the internet, its embrace of openness as a design principle, might revolutionize science if we could apply the same principles there -- if we could break down the legal and technical barriers that prevent the efficient networking of state funded research and data. Imagine a scientific research process that worked as efficiently as the web does for buying shoes. Then imagine what economic growth a faster, leaner, and more open scientific research environment might generate.

Streamlining science, learning from the success of the internet, more open access to state funded basic research: these kinds of initiatives are the ones that might provide the ”superhighways of the mind,” the ”freeways of the information age” -- but they are too abstract, more likely to involve open data protocols than bundles of wires, and thus they garner little attention. Now would be an ideal time to invest in the architecture of openness, but this kind of architecture doesn’t get built with cement. ...