Dear Dr. Baterbury,
Thank you very much for the critique of 'speed' in embracing and
organising the OA agenda. I do agree with you about the disruption
brought in by constant and accelerating demands to 'rethink'/'reorient'
something, to configure the 'post-' moment.
Simultaneously, the emerging debates at this time of increasing
acceptance of OA practices by the government of UK and World Bank, to
name a few, do challenge us to revisit the movement that has began a
decade ago with the BOAI. The interest of this discussion ('Is Open
Access still relevant?') is not so much to configure the post-OA moment
and its agenda, but to seriously respond to the critiques such as that
the OA agenda itself is not governed by an open and participatory
mechanism, or that the OA agenda in its present form is substantially
silent about the challenges to education and knowledge sharing in
'developing countries' (including the concern about OA practices
reinforcing digital divides). I believe it is crucial to address these
questions along with the ongoing efforts for opening up academic
practices and publications (instead of postponing that conversation),
not to undermine these efforts but to strengthen them.
As one of the coordinators of the discussion concerned, please let me
request you to share your opinions (including the critique of 'speed')
at the WSIS forum. I believe commentators there will respond more
productively to the concerns raised by you.
Here is the link to the discussion page:
On Friday 25 January 2013 05:30 AM, CRIT-GEOG-FORUM automatic digest
> Date: Thu, 24 Jan 2013 02:17:54 +0000
> From: Simon P J Batterbury <[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: Re: Is Open Access still relevant? | invitation to a discussion
> This discussion fills me with dread, because it itself a result of the fast pace of change that begun with the internet age, and it is enabled by it. Online communication possibilities have compressed debates that should probably take a decade, into less than a year. We are being pitched into post-OA journals debate when we have only just begun the OA journals debate in earnest just over one year ago! The thecostofknowledge.com campaign against Elsevier, targeted as an example of a profitable publisher that has not embraced free academic information, has over 13,000 signatures, with 1,265 of them social scientists.
> The history is roughly this. We had our print journals back in the day. People without access to them were disadvantaged, unless they could walk into a university library (as I did when in high school). But copies circulated (I used to live in Burkina Faso when PhD student in the early 90s, and even there reprints could be had in foreign-funded libraries and the government research office). Then we moved to PDF being simultaneously available online, progressively over the 1990s. This did not increase access to articles since largely sitting behind paywalls at the major publishers. Then, open access journals, open access publishers (Open Book Publishers, ANU e-Press, etc.) and stronger Google Search facilities able to scan globally for free copies, have opened things much further in the last 5 years. The target at the moment is to see if alternative publishing models, based largely on an OA model and perhaps involving some author fees but no reader fees, can work - as it has fo
r several journals already. The issue of copyright attribution is critical. If authors retain it, commercial publishers make no or little money and so far they have not relented. There is a simultaneous debate about publishing of books and multimedia, but with major university presses offering e-books and the above companies offering excellent free or cheap books, I think the job is getting done.
> This means us all getting behind the OA journals campaign if we are serious critical scholars, and not patronising the dodgy open journals either. For some of you this will require agonising, if you are still contributing labour to the journals of the major publishers, like Political Geography, Geoforum, Global Environmental Change, World Development (all Elsevier) and committed to improving them. None of this is easy. And for personal decisions on where to publish, universities and bosses need to be convinced of the merits and quality of alternative outlets for their staff. The Finch report and other major decisions on OA have not yet been realised. This is why I think it will all take 10 years, rather than leaping on new thinking and campaigns spread very rapidly on proliferating electronic devices. These campaigns are an example of Harvey's time-space compression, and as I read it, we should be concerned.
> I don't think this can work if we revisit everything now, so close into a campaign, and have more "'open' self-reflections". Of course there is a battle to make available gray literature and to democratise information more broadly than journals - Mike Flood at http://www.powerfulinformation.org in Milton Keynes has been doing this for 20 years, beginning with setting up archives and resources in Eastern Europe and moving on from there. And DfID and international development agencies are clearly on the case.
> Dr. Simon Batterbury | Associate Professor| Dept. of Resource Management and Geography | 221 Bouverie St (rm L2.33) | University of Melbourne, 3010 VIC, Australia.
> +61 (0)3 8344 9319 | simonpjb @ unimelb.edu.au | http://www.simonbatterbury.net |