Monthly Archives: October 2008

An example of genuine Open Source Scholarship

To echo and inflect Dot Porter’s emarks on the release of Archimedes Palimpsest project, the val­ue of the project goes beyond its rich con­tent and tech­ni­cal accom­plish­ments — because of its mode of dis­tri­b­u­tion, the project stands as an  exem­plar of gen­uine Open Source Schol­ar­ship.  So often, as for exam­ple in the case of the Open Knowl­edge Ini­tia­tive and the Open Archives Ini­tia­tive, the will to open­ness is direct­ed toward the fin­ished prod­ucts of schol­ar­ship — e-prints and syl­labi — and not to the raw mate­ri­als that make such research pos­si­ble. (Not to diminsh the efforts of the two orga­ni­za­tions!)

Beyond schol­ar­ly com­mu­ni­ca­tion there are two less overt resources that make schol­ar­ship pos­si­ble, and which for the most part remain closed to those who do not belong to elite research orga­ni­za­tions (e.g. uni­ver­si­ties): (1) direct access to experts in the field, and (2) access to raw data and pri­ma­ry sources.  The for­mer may per­haps be opened by new forms of col­lab­o­ra­tion medi­at­ed by social soft­ware; the lat­ter, how­ev­er, have remained jeal­ous­ly guard­ed by the schol­ars who acquired them, or whose insti­tu­tions own them.  Archael­o­gists and art his­to­ri­ans are famil­iar with this sit­u­a­tion — real research requires keys to col­lec­tions, keys which are not giv­en to just any­one.  These resources are the  “Intel inside” for human­is­tic research, the cap­i­tal that dri­ves the pro­duc­tion of schol­ar­ly com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

Per­haps the Archimedes Palimpsest project will show the way to a dif­fer­ent mod­el for pro­vid­ing access to the schol­ar­ly cap­i­tal.