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Re: [xmca] FW: New PhD comic for 08/05/09!

While I agree that academia has a lot to learn from the open source movement, there's one important feature of the open source movement that bears consideration. The big difference between the open source software movement and efforts toward scientific progress is that the open source movement is built on what Clay Shirky calls the "failure for free" model. At SourceForge.net, an enormous collection of open source projects available for download, the most popular projects have been downloaded millions of times, but three-quarters of the projects hosted at SourceForge have never been downloaded at all. Not even once. For every Linux, it seems, there are a thousand GNOME Bulgarias.

But this is not only fine with the open source movement, it's actually the foundational premise that makes projects like Linux possible. Shirky writes this: "open systems lower the cost of failure, they do not create biases in favor of predictable but substandard outcomes, and they make it simpler to integrate the contributions of people who contribute only a single idea."

Because of the high-stakes nature of scholarly research and publishing (layered over by the increased pressures of securing funding during an economic recession), there's no room for such a large window of failure. Embracing the open source ethos means embracing the failure for free approach--it means, at its most extreme, a full reconsideration of the tenure process.

I'd emphasize, too, a significant difference between open source and open access. The open source community is populated by people who want to make solid, usable (if in constant development) final products-- openness, in other words, is intended for the developer and not necessarily the user. In the open access movement, there is no fundamental difference between developer and user of the products-- researchers and academics are fundamentally always (potentially) both. Indeed, the open access movement supports the effort to break down the barrier between developer (the person or people who conducted and published the research) and the user (other academics and researchers who value the published research).

Of course, this is all quite easy for me to say, as a beginning academic who's years away from anything resembling tenure review. I imagine the stakes go up significantly when it starts to matter more. Though I guess that's really the point, isn't it?



Jenna McWilliams
Candidate of Awesome
Learning Sciences Program, Indiana University

On Aug 9, 2009, at 10:22 PM, Michael Glassman wrote:


I might disagree I think that open access and open source are the same thing. The way I read it, and these terms of course are constantly evolving and taking on different meanings - and senses - in different forums is that open access is the idea that individuals all have the same access to ideas and that there is no price on information, but also that individuals have open access to disseminate their ideas. Open Access is very much tied to the NetNeutrality movement. That is currently there is a right with communications companies because these companies want to direct you to information that offers more money (and this will almost certainly evolve I think to those sites which claim greater expertise). So for instance I might want to find out about Vygotsky. Right now I might be able to Google Vygotsky and then search different sites - one site might be the Disney Vygotsky site where Vygotsky is actually a cat who is a friend of Mickey Mouse who talks about that he he he zone of the ol' proximal developmentalism with Goofy or I might find xmca, the thing is what I find is up to my own interests and abilities and hopefully I will eventually find the more worthwhile site and come back to it again and again (I do like Goofy though). The fear is that Disney will pay Time Warner though to feed me only the Disney Vygotsky site, or Time Warner decides that is the better site for me to explore. It becomes far, far less likely that I will eventually find xmca not because of what I want and am interested in but because of the way Time Warner is controlling my flow of information. NetNeutrality is a phenomenal political battle.

Open source actually refers to putting code up so that it can developed by online users, with its name actually coming from the publishing and continued development of source code. What has happened with Open Source experiments such as Unix and Apache is really quite amazing. Communities build up around the development of the code. Pretty much anyone can offer recommendations and whether these recommendations are accepted is based primarily on whether they work, that is make the code stronger. It is the community as a whole that more or less votes and whether changes become permanent. When an individual actually offers an addition to source code it doesn't matter who they are or what type of repuation they have because the emphasis is on making the code stronger. I think pretty much all open source projects are also open access so they overlap but I worry about considering them the same.

Open source strikes me as a stronger model for progress in science, but it would be especially important for the social sciences. It would involve a different way of judging individual's works. For instance any person would be able to offer a blog entry on Vygotsky, as say they are on xmca, but an individual's work might be judged on how many comments and responses the individual gets, perhaps along with a rating by all voters. I have found sites that use these types of methodologies develop a very high quality information system in a very short amount of time - but one that is far more democratic than the peer review system.

I worry that it is a bit disingenuous to say those who want to use the peer review system can while those who don't like it can go to open access and open source however. You get rewarded in the scientific community primarily for using the peer review system. If people ensonsed in the peer review system are willing to say hey, we really need to look at ways for rewarding open source and open access in a way that is parallel to peer reviews this would be great, but I haven't seen very much of that so far. In how many departments is blogging a tenurable activity? Even though successful blogs take an enormous amount of time and effort and expertise.



From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu on behalf of Jenna McWilliams
Sent: Sun 8/9/2009 8:51 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Cc: Jenna McWilliams
Subject: Re: [xmca] FW: New PhD comic for 08/05/09!

It seems to be a fairly common misconception that the open access
movement works in opposition to the traditional peer review process.
In fact, the work of the movement is establishing strategies for
allowing peer review and open access to coexist in harmony, and many
OA adherents are working to do just that:

As most of you are probably aware, open access is closely aligned with
the open source and open education movements, all of which embrace the
notion that more access to more information and a greater capacity for
expressing and circulating scholarly research benefits everyone. These
movements have had some trouble getting off the ground for lots of
reasons, one of which being that academia is in general a notoriously
ungenerous field: Tenured positions are granted to those who can
contribute something new, innovative, and unique. Why, then, would
academics--especially budding academics--want to make their work
available to all? I ask this as a budding academic who also happens to
be a True Believer in the Open Education, Open Access, and Open Source
movements, despite the inherent contradictions.

I've written about this  a bunch on my (non peer-reviewed) blog, most
recently at http://jennamcwilliams.blogspot.com/2009/07/opening-up-scholarship-generosity-among.html
. (The nice thing about blogs etc is that I can publish whatever I
want on whatever topic that interests me, without having to deal with
silly peer review processes; the downside is that none of the hundreds
of thousands of words I've published there on academic topics 'count'
as academic publishing.)



Jenna McWilliams
Candidate of Awesome
Learning Sciences Program, Indiana University
http://jennamcwilliams.blogspot.com <http://jennamcwilliams.blogspot.com/ > http://remediatingassessment.blogspot.com <http://remediatingassessment.blogspot.com/ >


Jenna McWilliams
Candidate of Awesome
Learning Sciences Program, Indiana University
http://jennamcwilliams.blogspot.com <http://jennamcwilliams.blogspot.com/ > http://remediatingassessment.blogspot.com <http://remediatingassessment.blogspot.com/ >


On Aug 8, 2009, at 9:36 AM, Peter Smagorinsky wrote:

Briefly....I will paraphrase Churchill's remarks about capitalism:
review the worst system imaginable, except for all the others.

I thought that the comic/cartoon/manga was well-done in that it laid
some pretty contentious issues in a short narrative without
undermining any
of the positions presented. So I didn't so much take away anything
from the
comic/cartoon/manga as I thought that it effectively laid out a

I'll just repeat that I'm a former journal editor and frequent
reviewer for
journals, and value the peer review system. It makes my work better by
providing my work with critical readings. If I don't like them or
think that
they or the editor is misguided, I can take my paper elsewhere; but
if I
feel that the editors and reviewers are in synch with my goals and
something to offer me, I can stay with their guidance and try again.

Others may disagree, in which case open access forums should serve
purposes well. p

Peter Smagorinsky
Professor of English Education
Department of Language and Literacy Education
The University of Georgia
125 Aderhold Hall
Athens, GA 30602

-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-
bounces@weber.ucsd.edu] On
Behalf Of Mike Cole
Sent: Saturday, August 08, 2009 9:03 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] FW: New PhD comic for 08/05/09!

What message do you take away from the cartoon, Peter?
Publishers for sure should not be the gatekeepers.
And peer review is often flawed.
But then what?

For many years,what is now MCA was a newsletter. A print discussion
before the internet evolved as it has.
Then, at Yrjo's urging, it became a print journal, now with online
if you pay for the print (ask Andy about the
joys of this arrangement) and many people, at present the most
burdened of
whom is Wolf-Michael and staff at LCHC,
plus lots of xmca-ites and other reviewers produce MCA. The argument
used to get the newsletter to journal status
was that the field and the careers of individuals working in it
institutionalized recognition. The most recent
version of his is the struggle for ISI status to satisfy the current
generation of bean counters.

It would be easy as pie to chuck all this and have xmca be re-
organized so
that people could publish long papers with open
access and no reviewing, so that members of xmca would simply have a
list of "papers for discussion" and quality would
equal what was discussed a lot.

No ISI, no blind peer commentary. Just agor uber alles. A lot less
work for
editors, managing editors, and reviewers.


On Fri, Aug 7, 2009 at 2:09 PM, Peter Smagorinsky <smago@uga.edu>

This cartoon seems pertinent to some discussions here about academic
processes and publication impact. p

From: PhD Comics [mailto:new_comic@phdcomics.com]
Sent: Friday, August 07, 2009 2:49 PM
To: mailinglist2@phdcomics.com
Subject: New PhD comic for 08/05/09!


A new 'Piled Higher & Deeper' comic strip has been posted at:



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