At the International Congress: Open Access and the Ecology of Knowledge

In my post a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I would discuss events at the International Congress of History of Science at Manchester (ICHSTM 2013).

The session that I co-organized with Birute Railiene (president of the the International Union’s Commission on Bibliography and Documentation) brought together a group of speakers who have been studying or providing digital reference resources. We called the session “The History of Science and the Ecology of Knowledge” to encourage the presenters to think about how history of science resources are useful for ourselves as well as people outside of the academy.

Among the papers, Annie Jamieson talked about primary and secondary education; Jussi-Pekka Hakkarainen explained a web-based “citizen science” project; Urs Schoepflin described the Max Planck Institute’s new open access publishing platform; and Simon Chaplin gave a rousing defense of open access as a principle of modern scholarship.

Open access and sharing of resources turn out to be defining features of many successful scholarly ventures in the digital environment. The ecological system (to return to the metaphor of the symposium) works better and produces more intellectual wealth when resources are widely available and stretch beyond the boundaries of the academy.

As I thought about the symposium, I realized that one of the most important messages was that scholarly mission is best accomplished when we make our work as open and freely available as possible. Gone are the days when the academic world remains cloistered in an ivory tower.

In the past few years, I’ve been pursuing that agenda with the Isis Bibliography. Those of you who have used the OCLC First Search platform to find Isis records will already have a taste of what I am working toward. In the next year, I hope to be able to make accessible all of the Isis data in a new search platform as well as through an API so that it can be integrated with other tools.

If you want to read more about bibliographically related events at the Manchester Congress, please go to my post on the World History of Science Online blog.

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