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The Open rEvolution

2013 April 7
Open of gesloten?

What is open or closed may just depend on your perspective

Just a few unfinished, but interconnected thoughts –for the good of the blogosphere – on topics related to the recent National Congres Open Data, Open Geodata Workshops and other open events. Although open innovation has my special interest, I appreciate multiple perspectives on openness, especially during these kind of events. My generic warning is about the positive social connotation ‘openness’ possesses. It may lead to just want to appear open, without actually being very open at all.


Open Access

There is this moment of awkwardness when you regain interest in scientific papers, but once you try to get access, you’re presented with a huge $ (or €) sign. In case of ‘a possible future value’ for you or your organisation, this does somehow make sense. But what if it is just that scientific interest, which science should be all about? This is where Open Access comes into play and it is on the rise. Good reading on the topic can be found at the Royal Society and the blog of Neelie Kroes, European Commission.


IMAG2979Free culture and the public domain

Discussions about ‘who owns the public domain’ are food-for-thought. Frequently I hear the position that the public domain is owned by the ‘the government’. I claim that, if it is owned at all, it is claimed by society at large, in which government is only one –albeit an important- player. There is (still) so much of government that it is not public domain.

Never thought I would be discussing about Aaron Schwartz during an open data workshop, but we did. To me, Aaron’s tragedy is a clear case of Copy-not-right © and I do hope it will impact our/US thinking and acting on free culture and the public domain beyond Aaron’s law.


Open Courseware

If a professor writes a book while working at the university, who owns the rights to this book? If you are a student, are you allowed to publish the tutorials you had in class, 25 years after that interesting time? (I hope so, since I did that). Somehow Closed Courseware is a anatopism at universities. Should knowledge not spread as easy as possible?


ValueOpen Source

Discussed free source versus open source during our workshop; free source as a political movement and open source as a way for communities to jointly create value.  If the focus is on free source, there is hardly interest in a business case. Not working with open source at all is becoming rather unique these days. Social coding clearly has its limits, especially when there are no interested communities to be found. It is on these limits where value creation occurs.


Open data

Definitions are important, especially when we talk about open data. I prefer the one from the Open Knowledge Foundation, since it is very clearly defined. Open data initiatives usually involves data (…), events, a metadata portal, a hackathon and hopefully a community as well. As data in ecosystems always had a major say in their success, I expect this topic to not go away (in contrast to some other open topics).


The 100% open world

Whoever talks about an open revolution clearly has never been in a real one. Then again, words like disruptive, (open) innovation and paradigm (shift) are used for the most unexpected phenomena (to me), so I understand the mix-up. I do keep wondering about the 100% open world some of us are striving for. In my opinion, we all choose our level of openness.

Ending, not on a personal note at all, with Robert Hinde’s* comments on directness in communications and social relationship: “It may not be wise to say everything that one thinks about one’s mother-in-law”. The same can be applied to any organizational, community and inter-personal context. Openness is very selective and clearly has its limits.

*Bending the rules, Robert Hinde, p. 94

Recap open geo data workshop from Jan Willem van Eck
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