Gatekeepers or Gatecrashers

This post is a collection of not fully formed thoughts, ideas that I have been mulling over since my VALA boot camp on epublishing. Take them with a grain of salt please.

Traditionally information professionals, be they Archivists, Librarians, Curators or the rest of the cultural heritage sector, have been seen (rightly or wrongly) as gatekeepers of knowledge and information. These days as information becomes more and more locked down (DMCA, DRM, never expiring copyright, etc) the term gatekeeper becomes more and more accurate.

Every DRM encumbered book a library lends makes DRM one little bit more accepted. Every borrower who is helped to jump through the ridiculous hoops that DRM puts in front them is one more step in normalising it. When we make gallery exhibition apps that work only on ‘I’ devices we encourage our users to use proprietary software. In essence I contend that we are actually providing a disservice when we do these things.

Luckily at the same time this increased lock in is occurring, the Open Access movement is also increasing. I say Open Access not Open Data, because data is just 1s and 0s it is useless without software. And if the software I need to access the data isn’t Open, then I don’t have Open Access.

So I think we need to become gatecrashers, we should at the very least be pointing out the gates are there, and who put them there, at best we should be busting them open. Let’s promote Open Access, that’s Open Data and Open Software, at every opportunity we get. Let’s push back against those who would put knowledge in a walled garden. Let’s storm the gates and send them crashing open.

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