It’s getting to the end of the year, and I’m feeling a little retrospective and I’m (anxiously) looking forward to the future. We have enjoyed a great year with Open Context (see here). More generally, it’s obviously been a big year for all things “open.” The White House has embraced Open Access and Open Data policies, and even recognized the work of some advocates of reform, and that has been hugely exciting.
This blog post looks at the open access debate, and notes how sustainability is as much of an ideological and political question as it is a financial issue. It is intended to follow up on previous blog posts (first, second, third) that discussed how the Aaron Swartz prosecution and death highlighted tremendous injustices in the legal framework governing scholarly communications.
Mitch Allen, a publisher that I greatly respect, commented on my blog posts about Aaron Swartz and scholarly communications in archaeology. His comments got me thinking again about the issue in some depth, and I want to take the opportunity to write about it in preparation for the SAA conference in Hawaii. Allen thought I was probably overstating the legal issues associated with sharing logins and sharing files to get scholarly publications.
Again, thanks to everyone for the thoughtful comments and discussion on my prior post here and elsewhere. I also want to thank Fred Limp, President of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) for taking the time to share his thoughts on the topic, including posting them on this blog. Below are the comments he emailed to me (with permissions to post): Eric, Thank you for calling to my attention your thoughtful post at http://www.alexandriaarchive.
I don’t post to this blog as much as I used to, but every once in a while there are some developments in the world of data sharing and scholarly communications that I think worthwhile discussing with respect to archaeology. This blog post is an attempt to gather my thoughts on the issue of Open Access in advance of a forum on the subject that will be held at the Society for American Archaeology’s (SAA) annual meeting in Honolulu in April.
In case you all didn’t know, today is the last day of 6th annual Open Access Week. I’ve been very busy lately with software updates to Open Context, an open access data publishing service for archaeology, so I haven’t had a chance to cover archaeology developments as much as I would like. However, I recently submitted a paper about open access in archaeology that was accepted to a special issue of World Archaeology.
If you haven’t noticed yet, the Wikipedia is blacked out, Google has blacked out its logo, and thousands of other sites are taking similar action to protest SOPA and PIPA. These bills in the House and Senate respectively threaten the open foundation of the Web, and the open dissemination of knowledge not just by the Wikipedia, but also by libraries and archives.
I’m happy to join with a fantastic team, led by Tom Eliot, Sebstian Heath, and John Muccigrosso on an NEH-funded “institute” called LAWDI (Linked Ancient World Data Institute). I promise it will have plenty of the enthusiasm and fervor implied by its acronym.
On the heels of SOPA, a bill that will make libraries vulnerable to lawsuits and felony charges for trying to do essential library functions (preservation and access to cultural works), comes another worrisome piece of legislation. The problematic bill is H.R. 3699, the “Research Works Act“.
I’m mulling over developments around the “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA, warning a PDF), a new bill going through the US Congress regarding copyright and the Web. The American Library Association, Association of Research Libraries, and the Association of College and Research Libraries wrote a very alarming letter about the harmful impacts of SOPA. In case any archaeologists out there haven’t noticed, archaeological research is very dependent on libraries.