Here at JISC we think a lot about openness: what it means, how to support it, where it takes us.
This is my contribution to that thinking. It is very much my individual views, but informed by the work we do at JISC, and by the Open Knowledge Foundation, amongst others.
My open narrative
Open makes things visible.
The everyday sense of “open” is open rather than closed – letting people see what is there, what is happening.
The web enables you to;
- do some of your processes/practices online, visible to others
- share some of your products/outputs online, visible to others
Open makes access easy.
This is where open–as-in-open-access comes in: open without needing to log in, and open without payment.
Open is social.
The “many eyes” principle of sharing open data and the open innovation model encourage others not only to view but to comment, to feed back, to engage. This speeds up the process in hand and improves the quality of the resulting work.
Open makes things usable by others.
Open standards exist to encourage as many developers as possible to adopt them.
This is where open licensing comes in: granting others explicit and generous permissions to use your content.
Open can be a way of working.
Doing open working and openly releasing outputs can make a person feel differently about what they do. Researchers might call this collection of activities open scholarship, technologists might call their activities open development, project teams might call it open innovation. Each of these types of open practice has elements in common and elements specific to the sorts of activities the practice involves.
Open is not exclusive
Open source can mean both the open development process and the open source software. They are not always found together: open development processes can produce non-open software, and closed development processes can produce open source software.
Opens are mutually beneficial
There is a virtuous cycle when open process and open products combine. In open scholarship, both creating and using open content and using open ways of working, the content feeds the practice feeds the content.
I’m watching the Openness in Education course with interest and I expect this whole meta open concept to deepen in 2012.
A Diagram of Opens
Its important to note that is is an abstracted diagram: in my view, open is not a replacement for the way things currently work. There is not ever going to be a total transformation to open. The reality is a mixed economy. Business models matter. Practice models matter.
Open can be good for business, open can be good for practice but it exists in a bigger ecosystem of technologies and behaviours. Good is not enough, it needs to be useful. That’s what JISC and other advocates of openness are working hard to surface.
Ultimately I think open is good because it is a good way of working.
My Story of O(pen) by Amber Thomas is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
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