Monday, August 30, 2010

Open Access Can be Successful

Barbara Fister recently posted in Inside Higher Education an upbeat blog item about the potential of Open Access, "Open to Change: How Open Access Can Work". Excerpts:
Last week, when I challenged readers to think about how to make open access happen, Jason Baird Jackson had a ready answer: the Open Folklore project. This project is drawing a terrific map for societies unsure of how to proceed. Partnering with Indiana University libraries, the American Folklore Society is identifying where their literature is and how much of it is accessible, bringing attention to existing and potential open access journals, asking rights holders if material can be set free, digitizing gray literature so it will be preserved . . . these folks are sharp. And they're doing what scholarly societies should do: promoting the field and sharing its collective knowledge for the greater good.

I just visited their site again after reading a thoughtful article by Ted Striphas on the bizarre blind spot that cultural studies scholars have about the system that they depend on for conveying ideas and (perhaps even in their wildest dreams) making a difference in the world. He points out that cultural studies often unpacks the politics of media - except for those media that they participate in most frequently. He takes issue with the claim that I and others make repeatedly, that they system is broken. He says on the contrary, "the system is functioning only too well" - it rakes in terrific profits based largely on unpaid labor and a captive workforce. It just doesn't work very well for scholars, He does a great job of analyzing the issues and laying out steps that cultural studies scholars should take. It's a rousing call to action, and it's perfectly tailored to the concerns of his field. . . .

Sometimes I think about the tangle of cross-purposes and interests that seem so hard to disentangle and wonder if change can ever happen. But then I read something as sensible and smart and principled as Jason Baird Jackson's commentary or see what Open Folklore is up to and think ... you know, maybe we really can pull this off.