Peter Suber at Harvard University on the Future of Open Access

Peter Suber is addressing a standing-room-only house today at Harvard, in a session jointly hosted by the Berkman Center, the Office for Scholarly Communications, and the Harvard Law School Library. He insisted on a question-mark at the end of the talk’s title, so his topic is “The Future of Open Access?”, not “The Future of Open Access.”

The premise of Peter’s talk is his assessment of a series of cross-over points which move us from a proprietary world for scholarly information to an open world. There are different cross-over points for information found in books, journals, funder policies, peer-reviewed manuscripts, author understanding of the issues involved in open access, and university policies.

Peter mentioned, in passing, that the OA movement has no equivalent to the Free Software Foundation in the context of free/libre/open source software. This comment gives rise to a series of interesting side-issues. Who are the members of the OA movement? How are they (we?) organized? What is the trajectory of the movement? Is there anything that the OA movement’s leadership or followership could learn from other similar movements as to effective modes of advocacy?

It’s also interesting to think about the many disciplines involved in moving the world toward open access. Many specific fields are implicated: computer science, economics, law, and library sciences, among many others. FWIW, the crowd here at Harvard Hall is dominated by librarians, so far as I can tell, which I think is great.

Stay tuned for the archived version of the talk, to be posted soon at the Berkman Center’s site.