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Open yet everywhere in chains: Where next for open knowledge?

  1. Open yet everywhere in chains: Where next for open knowledge? VOGIN-IP-Lezing, March 16 2023, Amsterdam Alastair Dunning, TU Delft Library
  2. Hello! I am Alastair Dunning You can find me at: Slides and Text at: 2
  3. Head of Research Services, TU Delft Library 3
  4. Head of Junior Library Services, Den Haag 4
  5. A presentation in three parts 1. Openness in Chains Laying out some of the problems associated with the concept of openness in the digital world 2. Painting a different picture Showing how flourishing organisations still make use of openness. In particular, showing how openness is not an end in itself, but related to the notion of agency (agentschap) 3. Openness in your organisation What can information professionals do so that their organisations escape from the current chains and reclaim a modified sense of openness and agency 5
  6. 1. Openness in Chains 6
  7. "Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.” Rousseau championed an open, natural state of mankind. To him, society had become enclosed by various forms of monarchical and despotic rule. 7
  8. "Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.” This language of liberty and openness was often used in the first days of the World Wide Web 8
  9. “ “The public good they make possible is the world- wide electronic distribution of the peer-reviewed journal literature and completely free and unrestricted access to it by all scientists, scholars, teachers, students, and other curious minds.” 9 Budapest Declaration on Open Access
  10. “ “We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity.” 10
  11. Open Access? Within the field of scholarly publishing, open access is dominated by four large companies, to which universities and others pay millions of euros annually. Other scientific tools, even if they born out of dynamic, open, independent companies, can (and are bought up) by these big four. 11
  12. Open AI? “Over time, it has allowed a fierce competitiveness and mounting pressure for ever more funding to erode its founding ideals of transparency, openness, and collaboration.” 12
  13. Open Editing? Wikipedia, has acknowledged the limits of its radical openness (the encyclopedia that anyone can edit) has meant it has reflected existing power structures in the outside world, thus minimising content and contributions from female, global south, people of colour. 13
  14. Should we give up on the concept of open? 14 “Knowledge is open yet everywhere in chains”
  15. 2. Painting a Different Picture 15
  16. A reminder - previous justifications for openness openness and transparency support accountability it enables us to delve inside the workings of an organisation or a piece of code to understand it better, detect where things are going wrong, and do something about it; openness removes friction and reduces duplication this is a more self- interested purpose, especially relevant in large organisations where there’s a need to break down silos, or in pre-competitive spaces where joint activity leads to joint benefits; openness enables creativity and innovation with the idea that people can reuse and build on existing work to create new things. 16
  17. Agency The importance of being able of controlling your own destiny. For me the key aspect of openness is that agency gives the organisation, and hopefully the individual staff within the organisation, the ability to control what they work they are doing, without an imbalanced reliance on third parties. 17
  18. Case Study 1. GOV.UK - The UK Government Digital Service 2013 : Spending on external suppliers to provide digital projects was ‘expensive and embarrassing’, with 12 billion pounds for health service IT systems ‘going straight down the drain’ 18
  19. Case Study 1. GOV.UK - The UK Government Digital Service 2016: “The United Nations ranked the UK first in the world for digital government” Many things contributed to this. Agency was one of them. 19
  20. Case Study 1. GOV.UK - The UK Government Digital Service As a consequence of outsourcing, many IT teams in big organisations have been effectively captured by suppliers. Denuded of their own technical capabilities, they have been reduced to the role of contract managers– buying things in the hope it will fix the problems caused by the last order of stuff they bought. Without the skills needed to properly interrogate suppliers’ offerings, organisations buy the wrong things on lengthy contracts, leaving minimal room for them to respond when circumstances change. All this is anathema to designing and running decent digital services or meet user needs. 20
  21. Case Study 2. Hollandse Luchten 21 Residents in Noord-Holland long suspected that poor air quality in the area was a result of the Tata Steel works in Ijmuiden But how best to prove it?
  22. Case Study 2. Hollandse Luchten 22 Via open innovation methods in combination with affordable open hardware, citizens creating an open data source of air pollution. By claiming their agency via open means. The residents can then take informed action to solve the problem
  23. Case Study 3. Masters Theses at TU Delft 23 “Users expressed that it's difficult to use the repository to find inspiration for your own graduation project, see what reports are good or not, or to find out what supervisors look for in a project, or what projects they usually take on. After uploading, the entry looks boring, and doesn't grip the reader's attention. Furthermore, the entries are not very visible internally, or externally (like on google scholar).”
  24. Case Study 3. Masters Theses at TU Delft 24 Proposed new design includes: 'Thumbnail' images, graphical abstracts, posters, embedded videos, and interactive embeds (such as 3D model viewers), which show what the thesis is about. One or two sentence 'pitches' under titles that allow users to quickly assess interest. Views, bookmark, and download metrics that show how popular a thesis is; Entry awards; featured theses; and supervisor highlights make it easier for users to find examples of good projects. Supervisor profiles that show all their supervised theses, some information on what they do, and if they might be available for supervising your project. Related theses/supervisors/keywords in a sidebar can help a user find more of what they're interested in.
  25. Case Study 3. Masters Theses at TU Delft 25 Responding to changing user needs is crucial. This is difficult with closed systems from third- parties We’ve chosen to develop our new repository open source so that we have the agency to develop and respond to user needs
  26. 3. Okay. Openness is important. How do we embed it in our institution? 26
  27. User-orientated Five capabilities for the open organisation Networking Strategic Vision A degree of financial commitment 27 Technical Development Skills
  28. Capability 1. Networking 28 Institutions have a role to play in contributing to that governance, whether as active fully engaged partners or as more passive supporters. Example: Koninklijke Bibliotheek recently joined Open Knowledge Maps
  29. Capability 2. Strategic Vision There’s no point contributing to open national and global initiatives if you are unable to convince colleagues at your institution that this is a good idea Example: Gov.UK had openness as a guiding principle. “We should share what we’re doing whenever we can. With colleagues, with users, with the world. Share code, share designs, share ideas, share intentions, share failures. The more eyes there are on a service the better it gets - howlers are spotted, better alternatives are pointed out, the bar is raised.” 29
  30. Capability 3. A degree of financial commitment 30
  31. Capability 4. User orientated 31
  32. Capability 5. Technical skills 32
  33. Head of Junior Library Services, Den Haag 33
  34. Open yet everywhere in chains: Where next for open knowledge? VOGIN-IP-Lezing, March 16 2023, Amsterdam Alastair Dunning, TU Delft Library
  35. Credits Rousseau - UK Flag - Ijmuiden - Other photos - author 35