Democratic changes in OA can be only reactive. We need daring private initiatives

Democratic changes in OA can be only reactive. That means one step back with respect to active opposition to change, methodically pursued by interests of a small but powerful minority of big players in the publishing game (i.e. publishers themselves and their academic management friends, sometimes overlapping). And even more, one might say that democratic changes are even two steps back with respect to strategic decisions taken by the said big players. It’s only speculation, but for example the admirable DORA could throw us in the future into the arms of the newly acquired Mendeley.

By democratic changes I mean those which are agreed by a significant part of the research community.

So, what else? Privately supported changes. By this I mean support of any potentially viral solution for getting us out from this tarpit war. It’s clear that Gold OA is the immediate future change agreed by the big players, although it’s just as useless  as the actual research communication system based on traditional publication. Why waste another 10 years on this bad idea, only to repeat afterwards that it is already technically possible to disseminate knowledge without making the authors (or public funding agencies which support those) pay for nothing?

The advantage of a new dissemination system is already acknowledged, namely it is far more convenient, economically speaking, to profit from the outcomes of low Coase cost research collaborations, than to keep paying a hand of people who offer an obsolete service and don’t want to adapt to the new world of the net.

This point of view is stressed already in my Seven years forecast (i.e. until 2020), part 5:

In seven years all  successful changes of the process of dissemination of knowledge will turn out to be among those born from private initiatives,

Wish I have a crystal ball,  though I only have some hope.

UPDATE: Oh, yeah, maybe the uber-library idea is not the right thing. Yes, everybody wishes for a world library at a click distance, but that’s not all. That’s like “what can we do with cars? Well, let’s make them like coaches, only without the horse. The rich guys will love them.” And boum! the car concept became a success from the moment they were mass-produced.

UPDATE 2: Maybe relevant for the idea from  the first update, Cameron Neylon’s post “The bravery of librarians” ends with the question:

What can we do to create a world where we need to rely less on the bravery of librarians and therefore benefit so much more from it?


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