OA and digital history

Interchange: The Promise of Digital History, Journal of American History, September 2008. Interview with a group of historians. (Thanks to Mills Kelly.)

… [Daniel J. Cohen:] The debate about openness on the Internet has generally focused on ethical values such as sharing and libertyâ??openness as â??the right thing to doâ? or appropriate to the nature of education and academia. These are worthy and important values, and ones I believe in. With the exception of one of my books, I have given away everything Iâ??ve written. And for nearly fifteen years at [the Center for History and New Media], it has been a core value that we provide open and free access to all of our archives, publications, Web sites, and software.

But now that we have seen the true nature and impact of the Web, the debate over openness can also be framed in pragmatic terms; often to the surprise of the provider of the open scholarship or primary resource, openness benefits the provider as much as the reader or user of a resource.

Letâ??s begin with secondary sources, historical scholarship. In a world where we have instantaneous access to billions of documents online, why would you want the precious article or book you spent so much time on to exist only on paper, or behind a pay wall? This is a sure path to invisibility in the digital age. …

It is time we historians recognize that we are far behind the curve on open access to our scholarship …

On open access to primary sources, many of the same arguments hold true. Also important is what Clifford Lynch of the Coalition for Networked Information has called â??computational access.â? Open access to historical scholarship is about human audiences; open access to primary sources is about machine audiences. Unless we can have machines scan, sort, and apply digital techniques to the full texts of documents, we canâ??t do sophisticated digital scholarship. This is why truly free and open projects such as the Open Content Alliance are more important than Google Books, and why we should lobby hard for this more expansive kind of access to digital resources. …

OA and digital history

Interchange: The Promise of Digital History, Journal of American History, September 2008. Interview with a group of historians. (Thanks to Mills Kelly.)

… [Daniel J. Cohen:] The debate about openness on the Internet has generally focused on ethical values such as sharing and liberty—openness as “the right thing to do” or appropriate to the nature of education and academia. These are worthy and important values, and ones I believe in. With the exception of one of my books, I have given away everything I’ve written. And for nearly fifteen years at [the Center for History and New Media], it has been a core value that we provide open and free access to all of our archives, publications, Web sites, and software.

But now that we have seen the true nature and impact of the Web, the debate over openness can also be framed in pragmatic terms; often to the surprise of the provider of the open scholarship or primary resource, openness benefits the provider as much as the reader or user of a resource.

Let’s begin with secondary sources, historical scholarship. In a world where we have instantaneous access to billions of documents online, why would you want the precious article or book you spent so much time on to exist only on paper, or behind a pay wall? This is a sure path to invisibility in the digital age. …

It is time we historians recognize that we are far behind the curve on open access to our scholarship …

On open access to primary sources, many of the same arguments hold true. Also important is what Clifford Lynch of the Coalition for Networked Information has called “computational access.” Open access to historical scholarship is about human audiences; open access to primary sources is about machine audiences. Unless we can have machines scan, sort, and apply digital techniques to the full texts of documents, we can’t do sophisticated digital scholarship. This is why truly free and open projects such as the Open Content Alliance are more important than Google Books, and why we should lobby hard for this more expansive kind of access to digital resources. …

Art as a commons

Rachel Breen, Towards a Collective Understanding of Art As a Commons, On The Commons, November 26, 2008.  Excerpt:

This is the first in a series of essays about art and the commons based on interviews and research in 2007-2008. Watch for more from Rachel Breen in the near future. Editors

How is art a commons? In many conversations with artists and cultural workers from around the country, I had the opportunity to discuss how we might give more shape to the notion that art is a commons. A commons-based society could help increase the ways art provides meaning and value to all of our lives. The current status of the art market â?? the buying and selling of art at exorbitant prices and an increasingly privatized and exclusive sphere where art is out of reach, literally and figuratively, hurts us all. While most would agree that art is worth so much more than what it can be bought and sold for, (if it can be sold at all) the relentless expansion of the market into the world of art calls us to protect access to making and participating in art. While preventing further encroachment of the market into the commons of art and culture can help insure that people can enjoy and partake of art in the broadest sense, it will also protect artistsâ?? ability to more freely draw from material, ideas and ways of working in order to create anew. This article, the first in a series, seeks to initiate a dialogue about art as a commons and how a common understanding of this notion might help us to sustain and promote creativity and access to the arts….

Art as a commons

Rachel Breen, Towards a Collective Understanding of Art As a Commons, On The Commons, November 26, 2008.  Excerpt:

This is the first in a series of essays about art and the commons based on interviews and research in 2007-2008. Watch for more from Rachel Breen in the near future. Editors

How is art a commons? In many conversations with artists and cultural workers from around the country, I had the opportunity to discuss how we might give more shape to the notion that art is a commons. A commons-based society could help increase the ways art provides meaning and value to all of our lives. The current status of the art market – the buying and selling of art at exorbitant prices and an increasingly privatized and exclusive sphere where art is out of reach, literally and figuratively, hurts us all. While most would agree that art is worth so much more than what it can be bought and sold for, (if it can be sold at all) the relentless expansion of the market into the world of art calls us to protect access to making and participating in art. While preventing further encroachment of the market into the commons of art and culture can help insure that people can enjoy and partake of art in the broadest sense, it will also protect artists’ ability to more freely draw from material, ideas and ways of working in order to create anew. This article, the first in a series, seeks to initiate a dialogue about art as a commons and how a common understanding of this notion might help us to sustain and promote creativity and access to the arts….