Thursday, June 26, 2008

Willinsky's Back to the Future vision

People are just leaving the room after an amazing and empowering talk John gave to the packed lecture hall at Bahen, U of T. An unexpected and much applauded announcement that he has just yesterday "doubled" the number of major institutions that now require all faculty to deposit their research for public access. Standford passed unanimously this decision, matching Harvard's early pledge by the Arts and Science (February) and Law (May) faculties of the same commitment. John urges us, therefore, to "keep testing the waters and realizing the rising awareness of this 'right to know'" that is happening out in the Public Square.

Willinsky's talk was packed with instances and initiatives of public sharing and public access that is now pushing the OA project forward and offered 4 key areas that need further attention: open data for more extensive research opportunities, the return monograph as quality vehicle (historically "all major philosophic statements have taken more than 20 pages to present!), the promises of Web 2.0 for the social sharing and of knowledge and the increased interrelationship of public access and the public shaping of knowledge (John cites Stanford's Encyclopedia of Philosophy now getting direct links from Wikipedia and the Galaxy Zoo which allows the public to help do the research in naming the universe "out there" as two instances of what can "flow from the simple human curiosity about what is out there to know!").

My own impression half way through the session, where it often looked like John's breath couldn't keep up with the exciting things he wanted to share, was that this was one amazing teacher . . . and that if I had him in class years ago I would never have dropped out of HS, and out of graduate school years later! because he was bringing to us today, his classroom of students an amazing mash-up of excitement, rich humour, and a clear pointing to the expansive world of knowledge that is out there to discover . . . in full public access.

I'll offer more reflection and citation (gotta love the bibliometrics!) of John's talk later, but for now I think the Standford announcement needs to get out into the global traffic and help I push many other institutions in this same OA direction. Open Scholarship ~ the theme of ELPUB and the theme for the future.


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