Some weeks ago I was at the University of Linz to present my thoughts about open access (free access to scientific journals). There are a lot of similarities between open access initiatives and social media. Like social media also open access struggles a lot with semantics and not clear defined borders to close topics in case of open access they are: creative commons, open courseware and open source. This makes it very hard to discuss open access without getting into other fields. But I think this is exactly what you need to do. You need to see the bigger picture and the broader context to fully understand the topic. And if you do so you will realize that open access is (the far better alternative compared to paid content and) the best way to progress as a human race. Shared and freely accessable knowledge is the best and most efficient way to ensure that we will create better solutions in the future and for the next generations. Only when knowledge can flow and bounce without restrictions and barriers it unleashes it’s full potential.
Several studies show that scientific journals that are available for free get more citation than articles that are hidden behind financial barriers. Even scientist don’t want to go through the hassle of registration and passwords to get access to articles, humans just like to take the most easiest and convenient way. It’s great to see how much scientific knowledge is already shared via open platforms like Public Library of Science or self-archiving on various University servers and blogs. But their is even more knowledge, data & information still hidden in libraries, databases and servers. Like with humans in social media I encourage all scientist to share even more knowledge because the bigger the network the better the value for every single participant.
Here are some slides in German about the current state of the open access initiative: