More than just open access

Open access is but a small part of what makes online communication so interesting. Lawrence Lessig, who published Free Culture with the Creative Commons open license, used an internet wiki to integrate community support into the revising and editing process. I haven’t investigated it much yet, but certainly this provides an interesting idea for anthropological journals.

It could make it easier for reviewers to review work prior to publishing – especially when there are no worries about “leaking” the content out, to be stolen and published elsewhere. I wonder how many journals are using new technologies to simplify and coordinate the publishing process. Again, open source software movements might have a lot to share, given their expertise in building community motivation, and in bringing together diverse linguistic groups to work together on a single project. They have also produced fantastic tools for document control, version histories, and collaborative project management.

Its about control over the research once its been published, and control over the work to get it published. Obviously this control isn’t a bad thing, but the different approaches to developing respectability and authority must create very different kinds of publishing community.

Perhaps it is even about moving beyond the idea of creating essays as static, final productions. Sure it’s hard to update a book once its been printed, but theres no reason online publications can’t be turned into ongoing projects. As Lawrence Lessig showed, a broader community can be incorporated into the editing process, and new versions of old works can be produced. Ideas are not set in stone and not owned by any particular person [except mine], and so with the development of online technologies, to what extent does academic review need to occur prior to publishing, and to what extent can it occur after? Could responses be more consistently linked to the original productions? Can they be worked into them?

Making academic research more available through open access is just the tip of the ice berg. Maybe online communities demand (or open up) different forms of management, given the different medium?.

I think part of my research will have to deal with respectability and publishing. I wonder if anthropologists all know/have an opinion about which journals are prestigious and which aren’t. I’ll definitely ask.

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