As some of you many have seen, Open Knowledge Foundation advisory board members Peter Suber and John Wilbanks recently wrote two interesting articles in CTWatch Quarterly.

Peter Suber’s Trends Favoring Open Access is a broad-ranging overview of developments in publishing, research, and technology that look to support Open Access. As well as looking at how publishers and scholars are accepting and adopting OA models, he suggests that misunderstanding about OA is diminishing:

Everyone is getting used to the idea that OA literature can be copyrighted, the idea that OA literature can be peer-reviewed, the idea that the expenses for producing OA literature can be recovered, and the idea that OA and TA literature can co-exist (even for the same work).

While OA supporters have “good arguments and good trends”, he warns that we may see greater lobbying against OA policies in the US and Europe.

John Wilbanks’ Cyberinfrastructure For Knowledge Sharing looks at the way knowledge is shared in the sciences, particularly focusing on the life sciences and with respect to drug development. He says:

While the Web and email pervade pharmaceutical companies, the elusive goal remains “knowledge management:” finding some way to bring sanity to the sprawling mass of figures, emails, data sets, databases, slide shows, spreadsheets, and sequences that underpin advanced life sciences research.

He suggests that though technologies that could facilitate improved knowledge sharing already exist, the problem is that much scientific content is ‘dark’ to the web – “no one has the right to download and index with scholarly literature without burning years of time and money in negotiations”.

He goes on to look at the Neurocommons project – “an open source, open access knowledge management platform, with an initial therapeutic focus on the neurosciences” – as a good example of knowledge sharing in the sciences. Finally, he suggests a list of things that are needed to improve the situation:

We need publishers to look for business models that aren’t based on locking up the full text, because the contents of the journals – the knowledge – is itself part of the infrastructure, and closed infrastructure doesn’t yield network effects. We need open, stable namespaces for scientific entities that we can use in programming and integrating databases on the open Web, because stable names are part of the infrastructure. We need real solutions about long-term preservation of data (long-term meaning a hundred years or more). We need new browsers and better text processing. We need a sense of what it means to “publish” in a truly digital sense, in place of the digitization of the paper metaphor we have in the PDF format. We need infrastructure that makes it easy to share and integrate knowledge, not just publish it on the Web.

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Dr. Jonathan Gray is Lecturer in Critical Infrastructure Studies at the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London, where he is currently writing a book on data worlds. He is also Cofounder of the Public Data Lab; and Research Associate at the Digital Methods Initiative (University of Amsterdam) and the médialab (Sciences Po, Paris). More about his work can be found at and he tweets at @jwyg.