Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, April 30, 2010


Tomorrow (May 1, 2010) Google will turn off FTP updating for Blogger.  The old FTP-based Blogger blogs can migrate to a new Google-hosted site where FTP won't be necessary.  If a blog migrates, then all the posts in its archive will receive new URLs, all links to the old URLs will be redirected, all posts will carry their old page-rank to their new addresses, and Google will start indexing the new versions of the posts and stop indexing the old.  If a blog doesn't migrate, it will die.  Its archive may remain online, but it cannot be updated with new posts.

My days of heavy blogging at Open Access News are behind me.  In July 2009, I curtailed my blogging to make room for my new work at the Berkman Center, and in January 2010 I cut back even further --essentially to zero-- in favor of the Open Access Tracking Project, a more comprehensive and scalable alert service for the now very large and very fast-growing OA movement.  OATP was not designed to do what OAN once did.  But for several years now, the high volume of daily OA news has made it impossible to keep doing what OAN once did, even with an assistant.

Despite that, my plan was to keep Open Access News alive and contribute sporadically.  But now Google has forced my hand.

I've decided not to migrate OAN.  At first I worried about the risks to the large OAN archive:  more than 18,000 posts in more than 400 files.  I use the archive every day in my own research and I know that many of you use it too.  It's still the best source for news and links about any OA development in the last eight years, and I didn't want to take the chance that even part of it might not survive the migration or might disappear behind broken links.  Blogger has been very good about answering my anxious queries and I'm persuaded that the risks are low.  But the fact remains that migration is irreversible.  

(I especially want to thank Blogger's Rick Klau.  He always had time for my questions even though the migration must have caused a huge spike in his workload.) 

In the end, a more decisive factor was that I've essentially stopped blogging at OAN and don't have plans to resume.  The safest way to keep the archive intact for research is also the most realistic about my future:  freeze this blog as it is and start a new one later if I feel the need to do so.

If I do start a new blog later, it won't be a daily news blog about new OA developments.  I've been there, and the future for that task is the crowdsourced approach of OATP.  But if a new blog wouldn't carry on the job of OAN, then it needn't be OAN.  It would be nice to have the old page-rank of OAN, but if I do start a new blog --by no means certain-- I'll start from scratch like everyone else.

I'll still be able to update the OAN About page.  If I have any blog-related announcements too late to blog, look for them there.

I've often thanked the Open Society Institute, SPARC, and the Wellcome Trust for the financial support that made OAN possible.  But I'll never be able to thank them adequately.  OAN was more than a mere job and more than a full-time job.  Without their support I would have watched from the sidelines.


Friday, April 02, 2010

April SOAN

I just mailed the April issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter. This issue reviews some reader-suggested verbs to replace "to provide OA to". The roundup section briefly notes 117 OA developments from March.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Wanted: a verb meaning "to provide OA to"

The word contest in my March newsletter is generating some enthusiastic responses.  In the first 24 hours, I've received 79 suggestions from 16 people. 

Here's the contest again if you didn't see it:

English speakers need a verb that means "to provide OA to".  It should be as succinct as "sell" for use in sentences such as, "We sell the print edition but ____ the digital edition." 

I use "to provide OA to" for lack of anything obviously better.  But I don't like it.  It's long, dry, and awkward.  Making a digital work OA is a fairly elemental act, and the verb for that act shouldn't take four words.  I'm hoping that someone out there can do better.  

We could say "open up" or "make OA".  These are shorter than four words, but they're still phrases and I'm hoping that creative people can find or invent a single word.  We could say simply "open", but that would be ambiguous, since we already say "open the journal" and "open the book" with another meaning in mind.  "Give away" (or "giveaway") is also ambiguous, since we sometimes give away priced, printed literature.  "Disclose" is a nice fit etymologically but has similar ambiguities.  "Liberate" is a little ambiguous, a little precious, and suggests an overcoming of resistance which is by no means intrinsic to OA.  

We could revive and hijack a rare word like "derestrict" or "debouche" (the way gamers revived and hijacked "avatar"), but could we find one that is less dry and technical-sounding?  We could coin a familiar-sounding new term like "openize" or "accessibilitate", but could we find one that is less nauseating?  We could coin an utterly new word like "fazz" or "jirp", but could we find one that actually suggests the intended meaning?

There's no prize in this contest except glory.  I'll summarize the results in the next issue, and may also post them to the SPARC Open Access Forum for further discussion.  

If the submissions aren't any better than "open", "debouche", "accessibilitate", and "fazz", then I won't pick a favorite or a winner, but I'll still share the results.  If there's an array of plausible contenders, one of them may catch fire with some of you and start to spread, becoming more acceptable as it goes.  But you can already sense some of my personal criteria:  Would the word be ambiguous (bad), pretentious (bad), sound like insider jargon (bad), or make OA itself sound technical and difficult (bad)?  Would it be short (good), sweet (good), and more or less self-explanatory (good)?

If other languages already have elegant solutions to this problem, I'd love to hear about them.  

Send me your ideas (peter dot suber at gmail dot com).  I'll assume that I may name and quote you unless you tell me otherwise.  

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

March SOAN

I just mailed the March issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter.  This issue takes a close look at how "market-oriented" economic sectors differ from "mission-oriented" sectors, and where scholarly publishing belongs on this spectrum. 

The roundup section briefly notes 112 OA developments from February.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

The BOAI is eight

Happy birthday to the Budapest Open Access Initiative, which is eight years old today.

The BOAI "statement of principle,...statement of strategy, and...statement of commitment" was the first to offer a public definition of OA (combining gratis and libre access, though not in those terms), the first to use the term open access, the first to call for green and gold OA as complementary strategies (though not in those terms), the first to call for OA in all disciplines and countries, and the first to be accompanied by significant funding.  A good number of OA projects were already under way, but it helped catalyze the OA movement and give it energy and unity.

The BOAI was hammered out in a December 2001 meeting convened in Budapest by the Open Society Institute, which committed $3 million to carrying out the vision.  The BOAI public statement was released on February 14, 2002.

An old tradition and a new technology have converged to make possible an unprecedented public good. The old tradition is the willingness of scientists and scholars to publish the fruits of their research in scholarly journals without payment....The new technology is the internet. The public good they make possible is the world-wide electronic distribution of the peer-reviewed journal literature and completely free and unrestricted access to it....

Happy birthday, BOAI, and many happy returns.  And to all OA activists around the world, Happy Valentines Day.

(Disclosure:  I helped draft the BOAI and have received support from the Open Society Institute.  I'm probably not neutral on the subject, which is a reason to write your own birthday greeting!)

Thursday, February 04, 2010

True or false? Defend your answer.

Prepping for your Graduate Record Exams? Here's a sample essay topic from a GRE study guide:

All results of publicly funded scientific studies should be made available to the general public free of charge. Scientific journals that charge a subscription or newsstand price are profiting unfairly.

See GRE Exam 2009 Edition Comprehensive Program, Kaplan Publishing, June 2008, p. 231. (Thanks to Amber Smith for the discovery.)

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

February SOAN

I just mailed the February issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter.  This issue takes a close look at four analogies between the political fortunes of open access and the political fortunes of clean energy. 

The roundup section briefly notes 116 OA developments from January.

Here's a quick overview of the four analogies:

  1. The gap between breakthrough and uptake
  2. Putting obstacles in our way
  3. Slowing down to protect the incumbents
  4. Some pay for all

Update (3 hours later).  A list problem has snagged delivery of the email edition.  Apologies for the delay.  Meantime, the online edition (link above) is the same as the email edition and already available.