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.)

Producing Open Source Software

Karl Fogel’s book, _Producing Open Source Software_, is available [in its entirety on the web]( For those in a hurry, it’s available as a [single HTML page]( As Jason Jackson has made clear, scholars should think of themselves as producing open source materials. Why not think more clearly about the processes involved? (It might make, at least, for better scholarship and better teaching of scholarship, and, at best, it might lead to innovative forms of scholarship.)

In addition to the book, Fogel also has some useful links, e.g. a Google video about how a project can survive the people who are interested in it.

Open Access Bibliography

[Digital Scholarship][ds] maintains an [*open access bibliography*][oab] which includes not only a list of journals but also guides to setting up open access materials:

> The Open Access Bibliography: Liberating Scholarly Literature with E-Prints and Open Access Journals (ISBN 1-59407-670-7) provides an overview of open access concepts, and it presents over 1,300 selected English-language books, conference papers (including some digital video presentations), debates, editorials, e-prints, journal and magazine articles, news articles, technical reports, and other printed and electronic sources that are useful in understanding the open access movement’s efforts to provide free access to and unfettered use of scholarly literature. Most sources have been published between 1999 and August 31, 2004; however, a limited number of key sources published prior to 1999 are also included. Where possible, links are provided to sources that are freely available on the Internet (approximately 78 percent of the bibliography’s references have such links).


An Open Company

Sometimes the series of connections that is the internet (not the wires but the ideas) is truly amazing. As many readers of this blog know, my editor of choice is [Textmate]( Textmate made quite a hit when it premiered on the Mac platform, which up until that time really only had BBedit for users in need of a heavy-duty editor. (Was XCode available and useful then?) BBedit had a free version, but if you wanted the full version, it was expensive. Textmate was €39 — which was closer to $39 then than it is now. Textmate also possessed the amazing ability to be extended in utility by its users, who quickly proceeded to share bundles of snippeds, commands, and macros with each other.

Linux and Windows users who saw Textmate, perhaps through David Hansen’s famous Rails screencasts, wanted to know when its developer, Allan Odgaard was going to port his application over their preferred platforms. Allan steadfastly refused, and in a move that surprised everyone, seemed perfectly happy when Alexander Stigsen began to develop an editor not only a lot like Textmate but also one that could use adapted Textmate bundles — the very engine of Textmate’s success. I occasionally checked out the [E Text Editor](, but because I don’t work on Linux or Windows, I never paid any serious attention.

All that has changed with Stigsen’s announcement that he is going to turn his stable, profitable, conventional software company into an [open company](

What does that mean? The first thing he has made the application’s source open — except for a small, central portion that he maintains as proprietary. The next step is to set up a venue in which individuals can participate and begin to feel their way around the project — the code, the tasks at hand, the procedures. What he hopes will happen is that as some individuals become more interested in working, they will find themselves commensurately compensated. (The mechanism he has planned is worth reading on his site.)

Why is this an interesting series of connections? Because these kinds of enterprises are exactly the kind of thing that I think we should not only be studying in the academy but also replicating.