Opening Scholarship

I think Caleb McDaniel has it [right][], when he considers what it might mean for scholars to work “in the open”: publishing their notes as they make them. He raises all the right opportunities and the right dangers, and I like the idea of using version control for a backend. I would like to compare his use of GitHub and Gitit with what Graham, Milligan, and Weingart are using for [The Historian’s Macroscope][].

[The Historian’s Macroscope]:

Free and Open Source Journal Management Software

A list of free and open-source journal management software from the [Open Access Directory](

* Ambra. Formerly part of Topaz (below), but forked.
* CLEO Various tools related to and Lodel (see Lodel below) can be found in this site. In French.
* DiVA. From the the Electronic Publishing Centre at Uppsala University Library.
* DPubS. From Cornell University Library and Pennsylvania State University Libraries and Press.
* E-Journal. From Drupal.
* ePublishing Toolkit. From the Max Planck Gesellschaft.
* GAPworks. From German Academic Publishers (GAP).
* HyperJournal. From the University of Pisa.
* Lodel is the publishing software behind
* OpenACS
* Open Journal Systems. From the Public Knowledge Project.
* SOPS. From SciX.
* Topaz. From the Public Library of Science. Also see Ambra, above.

The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition also maintains a list of [Journal Management Systems](

Open Data Commons

[Open Data Commons]( “is the home of a set of legal tools to help you provide and use Open Data.” They have a lovely write-up of why open data matters:

> Why bother about openness and licensing for data? After all they don’t matter in themselves: what we really care about are things like the progress of human knowledge or the freedom to understand and share.

> However, open data is crucial to progress on these more fundamental items. It’s crucial because open data is so much easier to break-up and recombine, to use and reuse. We therefore want people to have incentives to make their data open and for open data to be easily usable and reusable — i.e. for open data to form a ‘commons’.

Oxford Journals Open Access Charges

Speaking of oof. Oxford Journals now makes it possible for authors to make their work open access. Yay! But it comes at a cost:

  • Regular charge – £1700 / $3000 / €2550
  • List B developing country charge* – £850 / $1500 / €1275
  • List A developing country charge* – £0 /$0 / €0

Apparently they have a very different assessment of the statement “information wants to be free.”

The New “Open”

The use of the word “open” as an adjective in front of an unexpected noun is ever expanding. At least it seems that way sometimes. It began of course with the coinage of the term *open source*, as in open source software. The *source* in that instance is the source code for the software, which is distinct from the compiled, binary code that one actually runs when using software. Source code looks something like this:

if (user clicks on this)
then (do this)

Whereas, what the computer actually needs in order to understand that is something that looks like this:


Which means that even if the binary code for a piece of software was open to its users, it couldn’t do them much good.

The idea behind open source software is fundamentally that you should not only be able to use a piece of software, to do whatever it is you want to do, but also to be able to improve it or at least modify it to make it do what you need it to do. What this idea enabled was tens of thousands of people all around the world, suddenly able to communicate (and thus able to form a community) thanks to the internet, to do was to collaborate in a new way to make an entire software ecosystem. (See Eric Raymond’s “The Cathedral and the Bazaar”.)

Their first steps, in turn, inspired others and the *open access* movement was born. (My friend [Jason Jackson][jbj] is not only really articulate about this, he also puts his money where his mouth is every day.) Open access is an attempt to make important sources of knowledge available, accessible, to anyone interested and with a small modicum of resources, especially access to the internet. In many cases, open access stands in opposition to traditional, in the historical sense of that word, venues for knowledges distribution which are often tied to third parties like commercial publishers who collect a huge markup for being middle men.

In the era of a worldwide communications network, the middle is no longer needed as vessel. Other middles — reviewers and editors and UI designers — remain important in many ways. The publishing and scholarly worlds are still trying to figure out how to maintain one middle without the other. Some just want to pay for the necessary infrastructure; others of course seek to profit as much as they can.

*Open source* and *open access* have inspired the coinage of a lot of other *opens*. By far the most interesting one to me is the idea of *open innovation*. [Glyn Moody’s Slideshare presentation][gm] does a nice job of encapsulating the idea, which is also the basis for a number of recent books and the professional careers of a lot of pundits/consultants. (I really need to figure out how to become one of those.) I have embedded the slides below — it’s a Flash package, sorry. 25 slides. Less than five minutes.


Speaking of Soundtracks

Please don’t forget that there is a lot of great music out there that is already available under very generous licenses. Some folks are creating amazing bits of music and they deserve the exposure that your podcast, video, or lecturecast might give them. (What? You are not considering a soundtrack for your lecturecast?)

Here’s just a small sample. I went looking for something fairly “spare” in terms of sound, and I wanted something acoustical. Layers of a single instrument — like Bill Conti’s “Black and White x 5” — always get me:

It reminds me a little bit of the soundtrack to *Rosencrants and Guildenstern Are Dead*, which, if memory serves me, was done by Snuffy Walden, who also did some interesting soundtrack work for the television series *thirtysomething*. (Goodness, that goes back a bit.)