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Open yet everywhere in
chains: Where next for open
knowledge?
VOGIN-IP-Lezing,
March 16 2023, Amsterdam
Alastair Dunning, TU Delft Library
Hello!
I am Alastair Dunning
You can find me at:
https://akademienl.social/@alastairdunning/
Slides and Text at:
https://openworking.wordpress.com/
2
Head of
Research
Services,
TU Delft
Library
3
Head of Junior
Library
Services, Den
Haag
4
A presentation in three parts
1. Openness in Chains
Laying out some of the
problems associated
with the concept of
openness in the digital
world
2. Painting a
different picture
Showing how
flourishing
organisations still
make use of openness.
In particular, showing
how openness is not an
end in itself, but
related to the notion of
agency (agentschap)
3. Openness in your
organisation
What can information
professionals do so
that their
organisations escape
from the current chains
and reclaim a modified
sense of openness and
agency
5
1.
Openness in Chains
6
"Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.”
Rousseau championed an
open, natural state of
mankind. To him, society
had become enclosed by
various forms of
monarchical and despotic
rule.
7
"Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.”
This language of liberty
and openness was often
used in the first days of the
World Wide Web
8
“
“The public good they make possible is the world-
wide electronic distribution of the peer-reviewed
journal literature and completely free and
unrestricted access to it by all scientists, scholars,
teachers, students, and other curious minds.”
9
Budapest Declaration on Open Access
“
“We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere
may express his or her beliefs, no matter how
singular, without fear of being coerced into silence
or conformity.”
10
Open Access?
Within the field of scholarly publishing, open
access is dominated by four large companies, to
which universities and others pay millions of
euros annually. Other scientific tools, even if
they born out of dynamic, open, independent
companies, can (and are bought up) by these
big four.
11
Open AI?
“Over time, it has allowed a fierce
competitiveness and mounting pressure for
ever more funding to erode its founding ideals
of transparency, openness, and collaboration.”
12
Open Editing?
Wikipedia, has acknowledged the limits of its
radical openness (the encyclopedia that anyone
can edit) has meant it has reflected existing
power structures in the outside world, thus
minimising content and contributions from
female, global south, people of colour.
13
Should we
give up on
the
concept of
open?
14
“Knowledge
is open yet
everywhere
in chains”
2.
Painting a Different
Picture
15
A reminder - previous justifications for openness
openness and
transparency
support
accountability
it enables us to delve
inside the workings of
an organisation or a
piece of code to
understand it better,
detect where things
are going wrong, and
do something about it;
openness removes
friction and reduces
duplication
this is a more self-
interested purpose,
especially relevant in
large organisations
where there’s a need to
break down silos, or in
pre-competitive spaces
where joint activity
leads to joint benefits;
openness enables
creativity and
innovation
with the idea that
people can reuse and
build on existing work
to create new things.
16
Agency
The importance of being able of
controlling your own destiny. For me
the key aspect of openness is that
agency gives the organisation, and
hopefully the individual staff within the
organisation, the ability to control
what they work they are doing, without
an imbalanced reliance on third
parties.
17
Case Study 1. GOV.UK - The UK Government Digital Service
2013 :
Spending on external
suppliers to provide digital
projects was ‘expensive and
embarrassing’, with 12
billion pounds for health
service IT systems ‘going
straight down the drain’
18
Case Study 1. GOV.UK - The UK Government Digital Service
2016: “The United Nations
ranked the UK first in the
world for digital
government”
Many things contributed to
this. Agency was one of
them.
19
Case Study 1. GOV.UK - The UK Government Digital Service
As a consequence of outsourcing, many IT teams in big organisations have
been effectively captured by suppliers. Denuded of their own technical
capabilities, they have been reduced to the role of contract managers–
buying things in the hope it will fix the problems caused by the last order
of stuff they bought.
Without the skills needed to properly interrogate suppliers’ offerings,
organisations buy the wrong things on lengthy contracts, leaving minimal
room for them to respond when circumstances change. All this is
anathema to designing and running decent digital services or meet user
needs.
20
Case Study 2. Hollandse Luchten
21
Residents in Noord-Holland
long suspected that poor air
quality in the area was a
result of the Tata Steel
works in Ijmuiden
But how best to prove it?
Case Study 2. Hollandse Luchten
22
Via open innovation methods in
combination with affordable
open hardware, citizens creating
an open data source of air
pollution.
By claiming their agency via open
means. The residents can then
take informed action to solve the
problem
Case Study 3. Masters Theses at TU Delft
23
“Users expressed that it's difficult to use
the repository to find inspiration for your
own graduation project, see what reports
are good or not, or to find out what
supervisors look for in a project, or what
projects they usually take on.
After uploading, the entry looks boring,
and doesn't grip the reader's attention.
Furthermore, the entries are not very
visible internally, or externally (like on
google scholar).”
Case Study 3. Masters Theses at TU Delft
24
Proposed new design includes:
'Thumbnail' images, graphical abstracts, posters, embedded
videos, and interactive embeds (such as 3D model viewers),
which show what the thesis is about.
One or two sentence 'pitches' under titles that allow users to
quickly assess interest.
Views, bookmark, and download metrics that show how
popular a thesis is; Entry awards; featured theses; and
supervisor highlights make it easier for users to find examples
of good projects.
Supervisor profiles that show all their supervised theses,
some information on what they do, and if they might be
available for supervising your project.
Related theses/supervisors/keywords in a sidebar can help a
user find more of what they're interested in.
Case Study 3. Masters Theses at TU Delft
25
Responding to changing user
needs is crucial. This is difficult
with closed systems from third-
parties
We’ve chosen to develop our new
repository open source so that we
have the agency to develop and
respond to user needs
3.
Okay. Openness is
important. How do
we embed it in our
institution?
26
User-orientated
Five capabilities for the open organisation
Networking Strategic Vision A degree of financial
commitment
27
Technical
Development Skills
Capability 1. Networking
28
Institutions have a role to play in
contributing to that governance,
whether as active fully engaged
partners or as more passive
supporters.
Example: Koninklijke Bibliotheek
recently joined Open Knowledge
Maps
Capability 2. Strategic Vision
There’s no point contributing to open national
and global initiatives if you are unable to
convince colleagues at your institution that this
is a good idea
Example: Gov.UK had openness as a guiding
principle.
“We should share what we’re doing whenever
we can. With colleagues, with users, with the
world. Share code, share designs, share ideas,
share intentions, share failures. The more eyes
there are on a service the better it gets - howlers
are spotted, better alternatives are pointed out,
the bar is raised.”
29
Capability 3. A degree of financial commitment
30
Capability 4. User orientated
31
Capability 5. Technical skills
32
Head of Junior
Library
Services, Den
Haag
33
Open yet everywhere in
chains: Where next for open
knowledge?
VOGIN-IP-Lezing,
March 16 2023, Amsterdam
Alastair Dunning, TU Delft Library
Credits
Rousseau - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Jacques_Rousseau
UK Flag - https://www.hippopx.com/en/the-chinese-national-flag-flag-china-red-banner-m-105497
Ijmuiden - https://nos.nl/nieuwsuur/artikel/2281186-sensor-om-zelf-luchtvervuiling-te-meten-nieuw-wapen-voor-de-burger-of-zoethoudertje
Other photos - author
35

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Open yet everywhere in chains: Where next for open knowledge?

  • 1. Open yet everywhere in chains: Where next for open knowledge? VOGIN-IP-Lezing, March 16 2023, Amsterdam Alastair Dunning, TU Delft Library
  • 2. Hello! I am Alastair Dunning You can find me at: https://akademienl.social/@alastairdunning/ Slides and Text at: https://openworking.wordpress.com/ 2
  • 5. A presentation in three parts 1. Openness in Chains Laying out some of the problems associated with the concept of openness in the digital world 2. Painting a different picture Showing how flourishing organisations still make use of openness. In particular, showing how openness is not an end in itself, but related to the notion of agency (agentschap) 3. Openness in your organisation What can information professionals do so that their organisations escape from the current chains and reclaim a modified sense of openness and agency 5
  • 7. "Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.” Rousseau championed an open, natural state of mankind. To him, society had become enclosed by various forms of monarchical and despotic rule. 7
  • 8. "Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.” This language of liberty and openness was often used in the first days of the World Wide Web 8
  • 9. “ “The public good they make possible is the world- wide electronic distribution of the peer-reviewed journal literature and completely free and unrestricted access to it by all scientists, scholars, teachers, students, and other curious minds.” 9 Budapest Declaration on Open Access
  • 10. “ “We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity.” 10
  • 11. Open Access? Within the field of scholarly publishing, open access is dominated by four large companies, to which universities and others pay millions of euros annually. Other scientific tools, even if they born out of dynamic, open, independent companies, can (and are bought up) by these big four. 11
  • 12. Open AI? “Over time, it has allowed a fierce competitiveness and mounting pressure for ever more funding to erode its founding ideals of transparency, openness, and collaboration.” 12
  • 13. Open Editing? Wikipedia, has acknowledged the limits of its radical openness (the encyclopedia that anyone can edit) has meant it has reflected existing power structures in the outside world, thus minimising content and contributions from female, global south, people of colour. 13
  • 14. Should we give up on the concept of open? 14 “Knowledge is open yet everywhere in chains”
  • 16. A reminder - previous justifications for openness openness and transparency support accountability it enables us to delve inside the workings of an organisation or a piece of code to understand it better, detect where things are going wrong, and do something about it; openness removes friction and reduces duplication this is a more self- interested purpose, especially relevant in large organisations where there’s a need to break down silos, or in pre-competitive spaces where joint activity leads to joint benefits; openness enables creativity and innovation with the idea that people can reuse and build on existing work to create new things. 16
  • 17. Agency The importance of being able of controlling your own destiny. For me the key aspect of openness is that agency gives the organisation, and hopefully the individual staff within the organisation, the ability to control what they work they are doing, without an imbalanced reliance on third parties. 17
  • 18. Case Study 1. GOV.UK - The UK Government Digital Service 2013 : Spending on external suppliers to provide digital projects was ‘expensive and embarrassing’, with 12 billion pounds for health service IT systems ‘going straight down the drain’ 18
  • 19. Case Study 1. GOV.UK - The UK Government Digital Service 2016: “The United Nations ranked the UK first in the world for digital government” Many things contributed to this. Agency was one of them. 19
  • 20. Case Study 1. GOV.UK - The UK Government Digital Service As a consequence of outsourcing, many IT teams in big organisations have been effectively captured by suppliers. Denuded of their own technical capabilities, they have been reduced to the role of contract managers– buying things in the hope it will fix the problems caused by the last order of stuff they bought. Without the skills needed to properly interrogate suppliers’ offerings, organisations buy the wrong things on lengthy contracts, leaving minimal room for them to respond when circumstances change. All this is anathema to designing and running decent digital services or meet user needs. 20
  • 21. Case Study 2. Hollandse Luchten 21 Residents in Noord-Holland long suspected that poor air quality in the area was a result of the Tata Steel works in Ijmuiden But how best to prove it?
  • 22. Case Study 2. Hollandse Luchten 22 Via open innovation methods in combination with affordable open hardware, citizens creating an open data source of air pollution. By claiming their agency via open means. The residents can then take informed action to solve the problem
  • 23. Case Study 3. Masters Theses at TU Delft 23 “Users expressed that it's difficult to use the repository to find inspiration for your own graduation project, see what reports are good or not, or to find out what supervisors look for in a project, or what projects they usually take on. After uploading, the entry looks boring, and doesn't grip the reader's attention. Furthermore, the entries are not very visible internally, or externally (like on google scholar).”
  • 24. Case Study 3. Masters Theses at TU Delft 24 Proposed new design includes: 'Thumbnail' images, graphical abstracts, posters, embedded videos, and interactive embeds (such as 3D model viewers), which show what the thesis is about. One or two sentence 'pitches' under titles that allow users to quickly assess interest. Views, bookmark, and download metrics that show how popular a thesis is; Entry awards; featured theses; and supervisor highlights make it easier for users to find examples of good projects. Supervisor profiles that show all their supervised theses, some information on what they do, and if they might be available for supervising your project. Related theses/supervisors/keywords in a sidebar can help a user find more of what they're interested in.
  • 25. Case Study 3. Masters Theses at TU Delft 25 Responding to changing user needs is crucial. This is difficult with closed systems from third- parties We’ve chosen to develop our new repository open source so that we have the agency to develop and respond to user needs
  • 26. 3. Okay. Openness is important. How do we embed it in our institution? 26
  • 27. User-orientated Five capabilities for the open organisation Networking Strategic Vision A degree of financial commitment 27 Technical Development Skills
  • 28. Capability 1. Networking 28 Institutions have a role to play in contributing to that governance, whether as active fully engaged partners or as more passive supporters. Example: Koninklijke Bibliotheek recently joined Open Knowledge Maps
  • 29. Capability 2. Strategic Vision There’s no point contributing to open national and global initiatives if you are unable to convince colleagues at your institution that this is a good idea Example: Gov.UK had openness as a guiding principle. “We should share what we’re doing whenever we can. With colleagues, with users, with the world. Share code, share designs, share ideas, share intentions, share failures. The more eyes there are on a service the better it gets - howlers are spotted, better alternatives are pointed out, the bar is raised.” 29
  • 30. Capability 3. A degree of financial commitment 30
  • 31. Capability 4. User orientated 31
  • 34. Open yet everywhere in chains: Where next for open knowledge? VOGIN-IP-Lezing, March 16 2023, Amsterdam Alastair Dunning, TU Delft Library
  • 35. Credits Rousseau - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Jacques_Rousseau UK Flag - https://www.hippopx.com/en/the-chinese-national-flag-flag-china-red-banner-m-105497 Ijmuiden - https://nos.nl/nieuwsuur/artikel/2281186-sensor-om-zelf-luchtvervuiling-te-meten-nieuw-wapen-voor-de-burger-of-zoethoudertje Other photos - author 35