14 March 2007

What Open Access Can Do for Open Content

One of the central ideas behind openness is re-use - the ability to build on what has gone before, rather than re-inventing the wheel. And yet, as this fascinating article demonstrates, there is sometimes surprisingly little sharing and re-use between the various opens:

This study demonstrates among a sample of 100 Wikipedia entries, which included 168 sources or references, only two percent of the entries provided links to open access research and scholarship. However, it proved possible to locate, using Google Scholar and other search engines, relevant examples of open access work for 60 percent of a sub-set of 20 Wikipedia entries. The results suggest that much more can be done to enrich and enhance this encyclopedia’s representation of the current state of knowledge. To assist in this process, the study provides a guide to help Wikipedia contributors locate and utilize open access research and scholarship in creating and editing encyclopedia entries.

I can't help feeling that there is a larger lesson here, and that all the various opens should be doing more to build on each other's strengths as well as their own. After all, it's partly what all this openness is about. Perhaps we need a meta-open movement?

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