Defending Openness

by Glyn Moody

Things have been going pretty well for open source and open standards recently. First, there was the implosion of the SCO case, in the wake of which even SCO accepts that it may not be around much longer. Then we had the rejection of Microsoft's request for a fast-track approval of its OOXML rival to ODF. Finally, the European Court of First Instance has refused Microsoft's request for an annulment of the terms imposed by the European Commission. All are notable victories that many regarded as unlikely a few years ago. But elsewhere, other open movements are still in the early stages of the struggle against forces pushing closed, proprietary standards.

As case in point is the world of open access. This is a movement to make the results of research freely available online so that others can build on them, and thus advance science and arts more quickly, to the benefit of all. It was not only directly inspired by the growing success of free software in the late 1990s, but displays some extraordinary parallels with it. As I wrote back in 2006:

Like all great movements, open access has its visionary – the RMS figure - who constantly evangelizes the core ideas and ideals. In 1976, the Hungarian-born cognitive scientist Stevan Harnad founded a scholarly print journal that offered what he called “open peer commentary,

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