17.576 open access

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk)
Date: Wed Jan 28 2004 - 03:42:06 EST

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 17, No. 576.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist@princeton.edu

   [1] From: Ross Scaife <scaife@UKY.EDU> (26)
         Subject: Chronicle story and colloquy on open access

   [2] From: Ross Scaife <scaife@UKY.EDU> (430)
         Subject: Liberation Technology

         Date: Wed, 28 Jan 2004 08:22:10 +0000
         From: Ross Scaife <scaife@UKY.EDU>
         Subject: Chronicle story and colloquy on open access

from Peter Suber:

Lila Guterman, The Promise and Peril of 'Open Access', Chronicle of
Higher Education, January 30, 2004 (accessible even to


A major overview of OA, its progress, its critics, and its future.
Excerpt: "The good guys, in the eyes of many scientists and librarians,
are the revolutionaries offering an alternative to the publishing
status quo. They are creating online journals that charge no
subscription fees. These agitators for change want to rescue librarians
from the tyranny of prohibitively costly journals -- upwards of $20,000
per year -- and to empower researchers who, because of the expense,
often have difficulty keeping up with new developments in their fields.
Instead of charging subscription fees, the new online journals require
the authors to pay, charging fees that range from $500 to $1,500 -- a
small sum compared with, say, most biomedical-research grants from the
National Institutes of Health."

This Thursday, January 29, from 1:00 to 2:00 pm Eastern time, the
Chronicle will host a live online colloquy on open access. I will be
the guest and answer questions posed by online readers. The colloquy is
open to non-subscribers, and readers may start posting questions at any
time. If you can't monitor the colloquy in real time, the Chronicle
will publish a transcript afterwards.

Archive of messages at

         Date: Wed, 28 Jan 2004 08:25:22 +0000
         From: Ross Scaife <scaife@UKY.EDU>
         Subject: Liberation Technology

  From the issue dated January 30, 2004


The Next Wave: Liberation Technology
In everything from course management to big enterprise systems,
universities must choose between monopolies and the open approach


If the nineties were the e-decade (e-com-merce, e-business, e-publishing,
eBay, E*Trade, etc.), the aughties are the o-decade (open source, open
systems, open standards, open access, open archives, open everything). This
trend, now unfolding with special force in higher education, reasserts an
ideology, a meme, that has a continuous tradition traceable all the way
back to the beginning of networked computing (in fact, as far back as
Thomas Jefferson's famous defense of the principle that "ideas should
freely spread from one to another over the globe"). Call this meme
Liberation Technology. It has recently been adopted by some venerable
institutions -- not only by some of the great public and private
universities, but also by major private foundations -- and it means business.

Since the beginning of Internet time and before, Liberation Technology has
been intertwined with and opposed to another ideology. Call it Command and
Control. You see Command and Control at work in the military roots of the
Internet, in the Recording Industry Association of America's prosecution of
file-sharing college students, and in Microsoft's doubly possessive and
oddly revealing slogan ("your potential, our passion"). Liberation
Technology wants to keep information free; Command and Control wants to
make the Internet safe for private property.

To be sure, not all proprietary operations oppose open inquiry, but the key
to the business success of open-source products like Linux is that they
allow people to make money by selling them, without allowing the seller
exclusive control. Especially with information goods, the notion of
nonexclusive commercial rights is key.

In the Early Days of the Web, Public Good vs. Property Rights

By the early 1990s, the Internet was expanding rapidly, going from one
thousand hosts in 1984 to one million in 1992, and new, more sophisticated
applications were appearing, like Gopher (1991) and the World Wide Web (the
first Web server in the United States was set up in 1991, with Mosaic, the
first graphical Web browser for personal computers, coming along in 1993).
Throughout the 1990s, university faculty members and students outside of
computer science were gradually becoming aware of the existence of the
Internet, largely because of the Web; so was the rest of the world, for the
same reason.

In retrospect, it's difficult to comprehend the rapidity with which the Web
went from an obscure science experiment to a fact of daily life, but it
took only about three years. By late 1994, the World Wide Web Consortium
was founded to take over managing Web protocols and their development and
to ensure that the Web would remain a nonproprietary public good. In 1996,
the consortium presented the first draft of XML (Extensible Markup
Language, the encoding format that is now used for exchanging text and many
other kinds of data on the Web); the official draft of XML 1.0 was
presented in 1998.

In distinct contrast to that ethos, with its focus on the public good, an
aggressive campaign began in the late 1990s to expand the property rights
of "content providers," in legislation like the Digital Millennium
Copyright Act and the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act (both passed
in 1998) and in case law arising out of the Recording Industry Association
of America's suit against Napster in 2000. Mixed in there was the Microsoft
antitrust case, initiated in 1998 under the Clinton administration, first
decided against Microsoft, overturned on appeal, and eventually settled,
quite favorably for Microsoft, by the Bush administration in 2001.

Against that backdrop, during the 1990s all over the United States
universities became big IT consumers, not just in computer science or in
the sciences, but increasingly in all disciplines, on every part of campus,
for all kinds of services. As they came to rely more, and more broadly, on
networked information in teaching, research, and administration,
universities turned away from the strategy of meeting their own specialized
needs with homegrown software and began to license more commercial products.

They also began to be seen, for the first time, as a profitable market for
commercial IT products and services. WebCT and Blackboard, for example,
both appeared on the scene in 1997 and over the next few years they signed
up hundreds of university clients for "e learning" systems to put courses
online, do grading online, accept homework assignments online, etc. On the
administrative side, beginning in the mid-1990s,
enterprise-resource-planning (ERP) systems from vendors like PeopleSoft and
Oracle -- for managing payroll, student records, human resources,
purchasing, etc. -- began to find a market in universities, partly built on
the fear that Y2K would wreak havoc on older, usually homegrown, systems
that had hitherto been performing those functions, often successfully,
often for years.

Universities also got caught up in the Internet bubble -- that combination
of greed, optimism, and willful ignorance of history that led us to believe
that information technology would create a permanent bull market. In the
heady days at the turn of the millennium, Columbia University, to take only
one of many possible examples, plowed millions into launching Fathom, a
for-profit online content provider for e-learning, confident that such a
foray into the commercial sector would turn a handsome profit for the
stakeholders, which included not just Columbia, but the London School of
Economics and Political Science, the New York Public Library, the
University of Chicago, the University of Michigan, and others.

Some time in 2000, though, the pendulum started swinging the other way,
beginning, perhaps, in reaction to failures such as Fathom's. In his annual
report for 2000-2001, the president of the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, Charles M. Vest, succinctly articulated a return to the
original ideology of the Net when he announced MIT's OpenCourseWare project
to make primary materials of its courses available online -- free. As he
noted, "inherent to the Internet and the Web is a force for openness and
opportunity that should be the bedrock of its use by universities."

Vest's report is not the source of the trend that is now unfolding, but it
is certainly a document that crystallizes a historical moment. It is
significant for another reason, too: It is emblematic of what's changed in
this iteration of Liberation Technology.

Course Management, Portals, and Enterprise Systems

This time around, the ideas are being advanced not by ragtag
communitarians, but by major institutions, with substantial backing not
just from MIT, but from a number of other universities as well, and not
just from universities, but from corporations, foundations, and government
agencies at home and abroad.

In MIT's case, support comes from the institution itself and also from two
major private foundations, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the
Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. On a first visit, the MIT site for OCW looks a
little longer on structure than substance. If you dip at random into
courses, you may see mostly syllabi, perhaps some exercises, and a list of
assigned readings, but not the readings themselves (leading you to wonder
how the effort is going to provide new educational opportunities in the
developing world, as claimed). But on further investigation, you'll find
that some courses have the complete text of every lecture (in PDF), and
others have full-length videos of every lecture (at three different
resolutions for slow, medium, and fast connections). At that point, MIT's
claim to be the first open-source university begins to seem more plausible.

MIT can't give away the readings in its courses -- in most cases, textbooks
and articles that come from commercial publishers -- but it can give away
the intellectual property created by its own faculty members, and that's
what it's doing. As with the open-source-software movement from which it
drew inspiration, it permits the reuse, modification, and redistribution of
content. Unlike open-source software, however, it prohibits doing any of
those things for commercial purposes.

That distinction is important, and it is key to understanding the doctrinal
differences among open-source sects. Beginning in the early '80s, the
innovation of the open-source-software movement was to argue that users
should have the freedom to modify source code, but could sell the results,
as long as the source code for the modified version was available for
modification. Those terms are codified in theGNU Public License.

Since then, other variants of open-source licensing have emerged. MIT's
materials in OCW are covered by a different, newer copyright, developed by
the Creative Commons project, an effort led by Lawrence Lessig, who set up
Stanford University's Center for Internet and Society, with support from
Hewlett, Stanford and Harvard Universities' law schools, and others
(including the philanthropic group Center for the Public Domain). The
Creative Commons license allows copying and redistribution, but also allows
the content creator a set of options with respect to attribution,
commercial use, and modification of the work. The Creative Commons license
is inspired by GNU, but also informed by a somewhat broader perspective, in
that it is intended to cover creative work other than software.

Though legal variants of open-source licenses do exist, at a technical
level, open systems require that everyone who designs or modifies the
systems does so under the same set of rules. In the case of online
courseware, content, and tools, the IMS Global Learning Consortium is
providing some important common ground on which to coordinate a very broad
range of specifications. One of the partners in that effort is another
"open" entity, called the Open Knowledge Initiative, or OKI. That effort,
financed by the Mellon foundation, is based at MIT with Stanford as a
principal partner and supported by a number of major universities. It
describes itself as "an open and extensible architecture that specifies how
the components of an educational software environment communicate with each
other and with other enterprise systems." The goal is to liberate
universities from having to choose a single software solution for managing
online instruction and/or online components of classroom instruction. The
result would be greater portability of content, greater flexibility in
choosing and assembling elements of a learning-management system, and a
shift in the balance of power between the client (the university) and the
software vendor, in favor of the client.

Universities -- or open-source developers at large -- could choose to
produce and share their own modules for things like calendars, gradebooks,
etc. Commercial vendors could also continue to build and sell proprietary
solutions that adhered to the architectural specification (and that,
therefore, allowed users to unplug some of the vendor's modules and plug in
some of their own, or some from another vendor). That speaks directly to
the practice of monopolistic "bundling" that was at the heart of the
antitrust case against Microsoft.

As with any standard, success will depend on whether both vendors and users
buy into it. That is not yet a certainty with OKI, but in May 2002
Blackboard announced its intention to adopt the OKI architecture. In
October 2002 OKI announced that it had joined in an informal consortium
with other "leading organizations developing specifications for e-learning
technology in higher education ... to coordinate strategy and conduct
common activities."

While the OKI project aims at specifying an architecture for online
learning systems, and MIT's OCW is focused on content for such systems,
another open-source effort, the Sakai Project, focuses on educational
software tools. According to the Sakai Web site, the project hopes to
"demonstrate the compelling economics of 'software code mobility' for
higher education, and it will provide a clear road map for others to become
part of an open-source community." Sakai is a collaboration among Indiana
University, MIT, Michigan, and Stanford, which will begin using its tools
in 2004.

Another partner in Sakai is the open-source project uPortal. A number of
other universities (in the United States and abroad) and for-profit
companies (Sun Microsystems, SCT, Interactive Business Solutions) are
involved in developing uPortal. Once again, the Mellon foundation is
helping to support the project.

Portals can do more than integrate news and weather, or library and course
information. They can also integrate the administrative-computing functions
of the university, such as student records, payroll and human resources,
and purchasing. Interestingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, one of the
corporate sponsors of uPortal is SCT, a company whose interests could be
threatened, or at least significantly reoriented, if uPortal achieves the
success for which it seems destined. SCT provides a "solution" called
Banner, one of those enterprise-resource-planning products mentioned above.

Over the past few years, universities have spent hundreds of millions of
dollars to acquire, customize, and make the transition to such systems,
often with very mixed results. The university that now employs me, and the
one I worked at last, are both in the throes of such a transition, probably
too far in to get out, but probably wishing they could.

Admittedly, it's a huge undertaking to retool an entire university's
administrative-computing infrastructure and workflow, and it requires
long-range planning and commitments. An institution makes those plans and
commitments based on the best choices available at the time: Several years
ago, when decisions were being made at the Universities of Illinois and
Virginia, there were no plausible open-source/open-standards ERP
alternatives, so the universities bought into monolithic proprietary
systems. Now alternatives are beginning to come into view. It will be years
before the current generation of university ERP adopters can switch to
open-source alternatives, but their experience will certainly help to make
the case for such alternatives as they emerge.

Toward a New Model of Scholarly Communication

There are a number of other pressing IT challenges facing higher education,
and at or near the top of the list are digital libraries (or, more
generally, data repositories). Those could include data held in an
institution's library (licensed or locally produced scholarly information),
data held outside the library (by an office of management information, for
example), and/or data published by a university press.

The case for institutional repositories is laid out convincingly in an
article by Clifford A. Lynch, executive director of the Coalition for
Networked Information, published in the February 2003 newsletter of the
Association of Research Libraries. Lynch argues that "an institutional
repository is a recognition that the intellectual life and scholarship of
our universities will increasingly be represented, documented, and shared
in digital form, and that a primary responsibility of our universities is
to exercise stewardship over these riches: both to make them available and
to preserve them."

There are a number of noteworthy "open" initiatives in this area as well,
and familiar institutions and financial supporters. Four very different,
possibly complementary, open-source frameworks for institutional
repositories and/or digital libraries are MIT's DSpace(supported by
Hewlett-Packard), the Cornell/Virginia Fedora Project (supported by the
Mellon foundation), EPrints (supported by the National Science Foundation
and Britain's Joint Information Systems Committee), and Greenstone
(produced by the University of Waikato, in New Zealand, and developed and
distributed in cooperation with Unesco and Human Info NGO).

Beyond the individual repository, there is the problem of federated
collections, and how to search across repositories, a dream long held in
digital libraries. The Open Archives Initiative (OAI) is a project aimed at
achieving that goal, by developing and maintaining standards to facilitate
sharing information. Currently, there are 134 registered OAI repositories,
and you can see a nice working example of sample searches across many of
them on the Web site for the Perseus Digital Library at Tufts University.

The EPrints software mentioned above is the self-archiving component of a
larger project on open access, supported by the Soros Foundation and
marching under the banner of the Budapest Open Access Initiative, whose
purpose is "to make research articles in all academic fields freely
available on the Internet" -- either by institutional self-archiving of
articles that also appear in for-fee journals, or by authors publishing in
open-access (free) journals.

In the American Scientist Open Access Forum (moderated by Southampton
University's Stevan Harnard), there is a lively, long-running, and
unresolved debate on what open access means. That debate has been
attracting considerable attention around the world, both within and beyond
the academy.

The efforts to promote open access to scholarly research, to build
interoperable digital libraries, and to create institutional repositories
coincide with the broadening university revolt against the monopolistic
bundling strategy of Elsevier, in which university libraries are required
to subscribe to packages of titles and are locked into multiyear
subscriptions. Faculty members and libraries at Cornell University,
Harvard, North Carolina State University, the University of California
system, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have all
rejected those tactics in the last year.

University-press publishers have a golden opportunity here to distinguish
themselves from commercial publishers and join with libraries and scholars
to create a new model of scholarly communication. To seize the opportunity,
though, university presses will require more capital, cooperation, and
creativity than they seem to be able to muster.

The Battle for the Desktop

Journals, repositories, portals, and ERP systems are the macro end of IT in
higher education; at the micro end is the individual user's desktop
environment. The desktop has been Microsoft territory for years, but
open-source projects are cropping up here as well. In September 2003 25
universities joined with Mellon to provide funds for Chandler, an
open-source alternative to Microsoft's Outlook. Chandler is (or will be) a
desktop application for Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows, combining e-mail,
calendars, address books, instant messaging, and file sharing. It's being
produced by Mitch Kapor's Open Source Applications Foundation, and it has
two subtypes: a personal version called Canoga, due out in the fall of
2004, and a version called Westwood that is specifically aimed at higher
education, due out in the fall of 2005.

What Chandler brings into focus is the battle for the desktop between
Microsoft and the open-source community. Microsoft has already seen a
serious challenge to its server market from Linux, but it still has a lock
on the desktop, in spite of a much-improved Macintosh operating system and
the persistence of efforts like OpenOffice, which provide an open-source
alternative to Microsoft's word-processing, spreadsheet, and presentation
software. Kapor estimates that it will be 2007 before Linux makes
significant inroads here. Still, Microsoft is clearly already worried about
its dominance, as one can see from a series of leaked Microsoft memos on
how to combat Linux, available in annotated form on the open-source Web site.

More immediately, there are some noteworthy open-source developments in the
collaborative creation of content. One is a courseware project from Rice
University called Connexions, which converts "raw knowledge" into
self-contained modules of information and places them in commons, to be
used, reused, updated, and adapted. It is designed to highlight the
nonlinear "connexions" among concepts both within the same course and, more
important, across courses and disciplines. It is open source and based on
open standards (XML), and has support from the Hewlett foundation.

Another, simpler and more general-purpose collaborative tool that's become
quite popular in the last couple of years is Wiki, a Web-based platform for
collaboration that comes in a variety of open-source incarnations. Perhaps
the most robust and widely used isTWiki. Using any Web browser, you can
directly edit any Wiki page, add links automatically, group pages, search
pages, attach files, track revisions, control access at the individual or
group level, and so on. TWiki, which is just one type of Wiki, has
hundreds, probably thousands, of installations, not only in higher
education, but in corporate intranets at places like Disney, British
Telecom, Motorola, SAP, and others.

Combined with something like LionShare, Wikis could provide a powerful tool
for collaboration in academe, one that could change teaching, project
management, the work of professional societies, and many other activities.
LionShare (another Mellon-financed project) is essentially peer-to-peer
networking with authentication. Peer-to-peer networking is the technology
underlying demonized post-Napster software like KaZaA, but it also has less
well-known applications in things like videoconferencing. LionShare's
addition of authentication makes it legitimate for a broad range of
applications in institutional settings.

Choice and Compatibility With Commercial Software

The university-based open-source projects described here have in common two
key characteristics: unbundling and interoperability. Those strategies are
inherent to open-source software development, but have also proved
compatible with commercial software development. They are hostile only to
monopolistic practices.

Unbundling and interoperability are important because they provide choice
and flexibility. Instead of being locked into a single application or suite
of applications from a single vendor, you can choose to mix different
applications to achieve the best performance for your particular purposes,
at the best price. For the end user, that means that you can use a word
processor from one place, a collaboration tool from another, an e-mail
client and an address book from somewhere else, and exchange data among all
of them using open standards to which all adhere.

At the other end of the spectrum, in administrative computing or digital
libraries, it means that you can use a database engine from one vendor, a
portal kit from someone else, a Wiki for managing projects and discussions.
When something better comes along for one of those functions, you can swap
out that piece, rather than waiting until the whole system is intolerably
outdated, and then undergoing vast, enterprisewide transition from one
monolithic system to another.

On a broader level, what's noteworthy in the various threads of the trend
assembled here is the concerted efforts of a handful of private
foundations, working with public (and some private) universities, to
promote self-determination in higher education's use and development of
information technology. Most of the examples I've cited have been supported
by two foundations, Hewlett and Mellon. Both foundations give to things
other than higher education and, within higher education, both give to
things other than IT projects. Yet they clearly are having substantial
impact on the information infrastructure of the 21st-century university,
and the projects they are helping get under way will liberate it from
Information Property monopolies and IT monocultures. They've achieved those
results by emphasizing long-term sustainability of projects and by adopting
and promoting the open-source ethos of shared goals, shared work, and
shared results.

Open-source methodology has already spread well beyond software
development: In the world at large, the Human Genome Project is a famous
example. Over the coming decade we're certain to see this new mode of
production locked in mortal combat with older methods and the legal and
ideological commitments that they entail. It will be interesting to see
whether, at this critical juncture, the university comes down on the side
of freely shared ideas.

With a little help from its friends, it just might.

John M. Unsworth is dean of the Graduate School of Library and Information
Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is departing
president of the Association for Computers and the Humanities and is
chairman of the American Council of Learned Societies' 2004 Commission on
Cyberinfrastructure for the Humanities and Social Sciences.


The following projects, articles, and other electronic sources are listed
in the order in which they are discussed in the accompanying article.

MIT OpenCourseWare
Home page: http://ocw.mit.edu/index.html

GNU General Public License
Home page: http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html

Creative Commons
Home page: http://creativecommons.org

IMS Global Learning Consortium
Home page: http://imsglobal.org

Open Knowledge Initiative
Home page: http://web.mit.edu/oki

The Sakai Project
Home page: http://www.sakaiproject.org/sakaiproject

Home page: http://www.uportal.org

DSpace Federation
Home page: http://www.dspace.org

The Fedora Project
Home page: http://www.fedora.info

Home page: http://www.eprints.org

Greenstone Digital Library Software
Home page: http://greenstone.org/cgi-bin/library

Open Archives Initiative
Home page: http://www.openarchives.org

The Perseus Digital Library
Home page: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu

Sample search of Open Archive Initiative repositories:

Budapest Open Access Initiative
Home page: http://soros.org/openaccess

American Scientist Open Access Forum
Moderated discussion: http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Hypermail/Amsci

Open Source Applications Foundation
Home page: http://www.osafoundation.org

Open Source Initiative
Locked Microsoft documents available: http://www.opensource.org/halloween

Home page: http://cnx.rice.edu

Home page: http://twiki.org

Home page: http://lionshare.its.psu.edu/main

Section: The Chronicle Review
Volume 50, Issue 21, Page B16

Copyright 2004 by The Chronicle of Higher Education
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