Berkeley: Reclaiming our scholarship

Dictated into Arcturus

I am giving a 10-minute talk at the Open Science Summit this afternoon at Berkeley. So many things are going round in my head and I still have no clear idea exactly what I’m going to say. The history of freedom on the Berkeley campus is enormous and I’m just off to have my breakfast in the free speech movement cafe in the library ( ). Goodness only knows what new ideas I will get during breakfast.

I am absolutely sure that we are in the middle of something momentous. The phrase that I have come up with in the Berkeley context is that “openness is the new flower power”. That may sound pretentious but for somebody who remembers the sixties the influence that Berkeley has given us is enormous. Flower power changed our way of thinking throughout the world and directly addressed the military-industrial-complex. Openness has many of the same aspects. It is compelling, it gathers people round it and if enough people become involved then it is surely unstoppable. And it challenges power by making basic assertions that cannot reasonably be denied.

Our new concern is the publisher-industrial-complex. Of course many publishers are enlightened and working to spread knowledge. Many industries are enlightened and bringing valuable wealth creation to the world. But there is a core of members of the publisher-industrial complex who create income by restricting the flow of knowledge. They innovate only to generate greater control and more income. Our scholarship is hobbled by copyrights, patents, firewalls, portals, restrictive conditions and contracts. This has been a problem for the last 50 years and many people have accepted that this is the appropriate way to manage our scholarship. But it is not. .

So we must Reclaim Our Scholarship.

And that will be the primary theme of my short talk. It’s now possible. We create the scholarship. We create the meta-data. We create the tools. We can reclaim and reinvent the way that scientific scholarship is created and disseminated. It only needs enough people.


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