Monday, November 06, 2006

The politics and practice of accessibility in systematics

Stumbled across New Infrastructures for Knowledge Production: Understanding E-science while writing about TAXACOM on the iSpecies blog.
The book is edited by Christine Hine, who has an article entitled The politics and practice of accessibility in systematics, which I think will be part of Past, Present & Future of Research in the Information Society. The final paragraph of this article is intriguing:
There are some messages here for an open access movement that places belief in the ability of digital solutions to realise access to information. The experience of systematics suggests that too great a focus on the movement, and too much emphasis on the ability of particular technologies to realise a desired effect can be counter productive. A belief in the inevitability of digital solutions can sideline consideration of potential users and transform it into a simple belief that they will come. From this perspective open access looks like a low cost technical fix to issues of inequality, and of course nothing is that simple. However, we can expect that within the “open access movement” a wide diversity of initiatives may proliferate, and these will make sense to those most directly involved in a variety of ways which cross and blur the distinction between providers and users of information. There will be a need to remain open to non-digital solutions, and to respect the capacity of practitioners to craft their own appropriate technologies, even whilst we celebrate the ability of grand visions of open access to inspire, stimulate and offer a way of making sense of diverse experience.

1 comment:

Donat Agosti said...


The conclusion are certainly right, only a mix of things will do. But it is also true, that you can't talk all of it at once. And finally, all the open access etc is an empty shell, if we do not have the science behind, people asking questions, a set up allowing creative solutions to data you provide, etc.

OA is one tool though to not only open up our vast archives, communicate better, but live up to the notion, that systematics is part of life sciences and needs adequate funding.

So, the OA discussion will fade unless we deliver - not the technicians but we scientists.

We, you, I, all the others have to get, for example, ispecies running and make it a undispensable tool because it provides accurate acces and is being becoming part of other science domains.

Actually, it would be interesting to put some figures on how much money is being spent in oa and doing systematics - it is still very much biased towards the latter.

There is also another perspective in this. The publishers think every day about how to keep their journal business afloat - we hardly ever think about this. But unless there is a dialog, a pretty active dialog, we have hardly any voice in these developments.