Open Source's Kith and Kindred

One of the things that interests me is the way that the ideas underlying open source are being applied in other fields. That's something that I normally cover in my other blog, but sometimes things happen in those other domains that have...

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One of the things that interests me is the way that the ideas underlying open source are being applied in other fields. That's something that I normally cover in my other blog, but sometimes things happen in those other domains that have ramifications back in the world of open source, and so may be of interest here.

The details of a recent example come in this February post from Ross Gardler, who is Vice President of Community Development at The Apache Software Foundation, and Service Manager for the open source software advisory service OSS Watch. Here's how he describes the latter:

OSS Watch is funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) to provide advice and guidance to the higher and further education sector with respect to open source software. The JISC is funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) who recently conducted a review of the JISC.

This comes from a post about that HEFCE review – in particular, about one paragraph from that review:

JISC's promotion of the open agenda (open access, open resources, open source and open standards) is more controversial. This area alone is addressed by 24 programmes, 119 projects and five services. A number of institutions are enthusiastic about this, but perceive an anti-publisher bias and note the importance of working in partnership with the successful UK publishing industry. Publishers find the JISC stance problematic.

Gardler rightly asks:

Since when has the "UK publishing industry" been able to dictate how our sector produces and consumes software?

As the comments to the post rightly note, what publishers mostly find problematic is open access, which seeks to provide free digital access to research that has been paid for by the public – not an unreasonable aspiration, I think. But in the report "open access" becomes conflated with the more sinister-sounding "open agenda".

That's dangerous, because it might seem that there is publisher resistance to open source, too, which I doubt is the case (certainly not compared to open access) or to open standards (I don't know what they think about those...) But looking on the bright side, at least people are starting to recognise that for all their evident differences the various opens are, indeed, very much kith and kindred.

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