Nelson Mandela once said: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. Then why don’t we free up the access to the existing knowledge to everybody? The existing digital technology can enable this, but it is limited by a disturbingly limiting model…
This video provides a quality explanation of the existing model which is limiting the expansion of research output’s open access. Researchers got themselves stuck in a scientific publishing model, where they go to the most distinguished journals to get their work published. This way the publications end up having the highest quality research, for which they charge sometimes excessive amounts of money. This has clear disadvantages for readers:
4 years ago, Lepitak (2013) was anticipating that 90% of the online content will be held behind paywalls. It is difficult to test if his prediction was reached, but nowadays a lot of publications charge subscriptions for full access to their content. For instance, Financial Times. As Billige was anticipating (Lepitak, 2013), papers found the balance between pricing and customers’ value perception, giving another blow to the open access.
Open access was facilitated by the affordability and flexibility of the digital world. However, proving that public investments in scientific research must be open licensed so the public gets full ROI (Wiley et al., 2012) was the litmus test. Has it been passed? Probably not, but we’ve seen different people and organizations trying to prove it. And it was labelled in a more academic way by some practitioners as ‘Knowledge Economy’, as shown here and here.
On a large scale, the impact of a Knowledge Economy on several countries can be seen in the following infographic (ISET, 2014).
Dunn’s article (2013) emphasizes the real benefits of a knowledge economy on education, including MOOCs. Users can learn almost anything free of charge and purchase completion certificates if wanted. Some intriguing facts about these are listed in the video below:
Art sector is another area where the introduction of open access was highly debated. The arguments, both for and against are similar to the ones in scientific research. The presentation below illustrates some examples of the use of Open Access in arts.
My conclusion is that there are both pros and cons for the adoption of open access. On one hand, content producers need to identify the balance between open access and excess in publishing. On the other hand, we live in a society where the access to information is already denied for some cultures, just as in this case. Do we want to deny it even more by using paywalls for everything?
Barone, J. (2017) Nytimes.com: Met Museum Makes 375,000 Images Free. Available from: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/07/arts/design/met-museum-makes-375000-images-available-for-free.html?smid=tw-share [Accessed 7 May 2017].
Dunn, D. (2013) Forbes.com: Education Finally Ripe For Radical Innovation By Social Entrepreneurs. Available from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/skollworldforum/2013/04/07/education-finally-ripe-for-radical-innovation-by-social-entrepreneurs/#65ff5d85081e [Accessed 6 May 2017].
FORA.tv (2014) YouTube: Mark Zuckerberg: ‘I’m Pro-Knowledge Economy’. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BUWmyGBEfVc&t=1s [Accessed 7 May 2017].
Gumrukcu, T. (2017) Reuters: Turkish court rejects Wikipedia’s appeal over website’s blocking: Anadolu. Available from: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-turkey-security-internet-wikipedia-idUSKBN18117M [Accessed 7 May 2017].
HEFCE (2017) Hefce.ac.uk: What is open access? – Higher Education Funding Council for England. Available from: http://www.hefce.ac.uk/rsrch/oa/whatis/ [Accessed 6 May 2017].
HooverInstitution (2013) YouTube: Clip: Gilder on knowledge economy. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FJaMKu7t1s [Accessed 7 May 2017].
ISET (2014) YouTube: Knowledge Economy Visualized. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBC7bA-PeSI [Accessed 6 May 2017].
Jobson, C. (2017) Colossal: The Guggenheim Museum Shares Over 200 Free Art Books Through the Internet Archive. Available from: https://www.thisiscolossal.com/2017/05/free-modern-art-books-guggenheim/ [Accessed 7 May 2017].
Lepitak, S. (2013) The Drum: 90% of online content to be held behind paywalls in three years media company survey suggests. Available from: http://www.thedrum.com/news/2013/04/12/90-online-content-be-held-behind-paywalls-three-years-media-company-survey-suggests [Accessed 6 May 2017].
McIntyre, C. (2015) LinkedIn: Is getting a verified certificate on Coursera worth it?. Available from: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/getting-verified-certificate-coursera-worth-carolyn-mcintyre [Accessed 7 May 2017].
Piled Higher and Deeper (PHD Comics) (2012) YouTube: Open Access Explained!. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=L5rVH1KGBCY [Accessed 6 May 2017].
Scott, K. (2017) WIRED UK: What does Creative Commons mean for photography?. Available from: http://www.wired.co.uk/article/what-does-creative-commons-mean-for-photography [Accessed 7 May 2017].
Wiley, D., Green, C. and Soares, L. (2012) Eric.ed.gov: Dramatically Bringing down the Cost of Education with OER: How Open Education Resources Unlock the Door to Free Learning.. Available from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED535639 [Accessed 6 May 2017].