The unacknowledged convergence of open source, open access, and open science (Willinsky)

Willinsky, J. (2005). The unacknowledged convergence of open source, open access, and open science. First Monday 10(8). Retrieved from

It is in the concluding paragraph of this article that Willinsky makes his plea: for universities and faculty members to take a leading role in promoting the “common commitment to a larger public sphere” that he identifies as a common trait of the open source, open access and open science movements. He suggests that just as disparate groups commited to environmental causes had to join forces in order to build a popular environmentatism movement, so should these three groups. The similarities he draws include the important mix of community and competition, people’s motivations for participating and fostering these movement (largely driven by intellectual curiosity and the “addictive economy of ‘cool opportunities'”), “actively rejecting the extension of intellectual property right” (in favour of correct attribution but not of exclusion), an important relationship with patronage (whether at the individual or state level), and support of the Lockian concept of a “commonwealth of learning”.

One of the most interesting aspects of this article is Willinsky’s description of these movements and the factors that influence them in economic terms. He reminds us of the importance of free sharing of information between science clubs in the 17th century, and reminds us that computer software did not start out as a proprietary model, but only becaume thus in the 1980’s. He describes the current intellectual property rules as economically imposed, and places both open source software and open access in clear opposition to this system. Finally, he portrays these movements as means of resistance in the ongoing shift in how we approach and develop knowledge by calling them “practical and proven means of resisting that constant capitalization of knowledge work that marks this economy.”


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