Courage to go Open Content

Two recent stories may help give the Smithsonian courage to pursue an open-content strategy.

Item #1, MIT faculty votes for open publishing

Screen grab of MIT announcement

Last week, MIT’s faculty voted unanimously to mandate open access
distribution of their scholarly articles. Other universities have open access
policies within individual departments (Harvard, Stanford, and Boston
University), but this is institution-wide. Their Office of the Provost will have
authority and governance over the systems and business processes, in
consultation with something called the Faculty Committee on the Library System.
The policy allows faculty to opt-out on a publication-by-publication basis by
submitting a request and justification to an as-yet defined review process.

MIT Faculty Chair Bish Sanyal is quoted as saying that the vote is “a signal
to the world that we speak in a unified voice; that what we value is the free
flow of ideas.”

MIT’s Web
site says
that “MIT’s policy is the first faculty-driven, university-wide
initiative of its kind in the United States.”

I think it’s especially encouraging that the faculty chose to go this direction since they do so from a position of experience – –  the remarkable MIT Open Courseware project.

More from Open
Access News
, and a very thoughtful/informative
story on MIT’s site

Item #2, U.S. Representative Mike Honda (D-San Jose) blogs on open content and crowdsourcing

Screen grab of Mike Honda blog post

Last week, U.S. Congressman Mike Honda (D-San Jose) wrote
a guest article on the O’Reilly Radar Blog

“How can Congress
take advantage of web 2.0 technologies to transform the relationship between
citizens and government? Instead of viewing the public as a customer for
services, I believe that we should empower citizens to become our partners in
shaping the future of our nation.”

He continues,

“Websites like [] only
become possible when government data is re-purposed to enable public
participation. Until more government databases become available, however, the
full potential of web 2.0 technologies will remain unfulfilled. A dramatic shift
in perspective is needed before that need can be met.”