Fifty shades of open
by Jeffrey Pomerantz and Robin Peek.
First Monday, Volume 21, Number 5 - 2 May 2016
Summary at http://acawiki.org/Fifty_shades_of_open
Excerpts with OD mentions:
Other definitions of “openness” are agnostic as to the nature of the
intellectual property in question. The Open Knowledge Foundation’s (OKF)
Open Definition (n.d.a, version 1.0 published in 2007) articulates what
openness means for data and content of all types. The Open Definition
explicitly states that this meaning “matches that of ‘open’ with respect
to software as in the Open Source Definition,” as well as the meaning
of “‘free’ or ‘libre’ as in the Definition of Free Cultural Works.” The
Definition of Free Cultural Works (Möller, 2015) itself is based on the
Free Software Definition, an effort to define what “free content” means
in the context of the Wikimedia project (version 1.0 published in 2008).
The Definition of Free Cultural Works identifies four “essential
freedoms” that must exist for users of cultural works, the same as those
for users of free software: the freedom to use, to study, to
redistribute copies of, and to make changes to the work. Both the OKF’s
Open Definition and the Definition of Free Cultural Works are broader
than either the Open Source or Free Software Definitions, however, in
that they refer explicitly to patents, in addition to copyright.
Communities such as manufacturing design and hardware — in other
words, those working with technological artifacts — developed
Definitions based on the Open Source Definition. Communities working
with more abstract resources developed Definitions based on the Open
Knowledge Foundation’s Open Definition. (Though to be fair, the OKF’s
Open Definition is in turn based on the Open Source Definition.)
Really? There’s no citation. What “communities working with more abstract resources” could they mean?
In addition to the bile being vented in the blogosphere, many open
communities have responded to openwashing with more rigorous definitions
of what “open” means. The Open Source Initiative has developed the Open
Standards Requirement for Software (Open Source Initiative, n.d.b), a
set of criteria with which open standards must comply, so as not to
discriminate against open source developers. PLOS (Public Library of
Science) has developed the “HowOpenIsIt?” Open Access Spectrum, “to
enable users to compare and contrast publications and policies” across a
set of criteria (Public Library of Science, n.d.b). In 2014 the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)
required all publishers of journals listed in the directory to reapply
under a stricter set of criteria, in part to “weed out questionable
journals” (Mitchell, 2015). Building on the DOAJ criteria, Graziotin, et al.
(2014) have developed a “framework for systematically analyzing open
access journals” to identify which of a set of core open access
attributes a journal possesses. The Apereo Foundation, which has
supported several open source and open education projects, has developed
an Openness Index to “assess the openness of the organization/community
that creates and manages” open artifacts (Masson and Udas, 2013). The
Open Knowledge Foundation’s Open Definition, discussed earlier, “makes
precise the meaning of ‘open’ with respect to knowledge,” and has
undergone several revisions to ensure this precision.
This paper reminds me of when I was complaining about renaming the Open Knowledge Definition to the Open Definition:
I have daydreamed about a meta open definition, which would try to capture
the spirit of Open even when people try to apply the term to things
that aren’t fixed (knowledge, software) but also processes and
relations (organizations, society…). This is probably not the right
venue or time, but it a do-ocracy to an extent if anyone wishes to
This paper doesn’t attempt to set out such a meta open definition, but might describe some of the features of such a latent definition.