Thursday, March 09, 2006

Open access is impossible without findability

Open access (OA) advocates like Peter Suber and my colleagues here at OA Librarian do a marvelous job of documenting the progress of the OA movement. In a post-OA world, however, what about findability? What about the search side of the equation? Without search engines like Google, for example, what happens to easy findability?? The problem is likely to be exacerbated as the web scales in size, and complexity.

Authority destabilizes in open access models. I am thinking in terms of authority files in catalogues but also with respect to authoritative information. I grew up in a small suburb of Calgary, Alberta where authority was never questioned, where the World Book Encyclopedia was "what was right". For all its limitations, at least a ten year old could find the World Book confidently at the local public library. Can that same ten year old trust Wikipedia?

OA librarians need to spend time and intellectual energy thinking about OA advocacy beyond free information for all. Dismantling paid search, for example. Advocating for OpenSearch, as in PubMed, but not just in medicine. Finally, the future of open access models on the web must be flexible enough to accomodate new means of findability - ie. algorithms, tagging, folksonomies, social software - but continue to build on the tried-and-true tenets of library science.

This is our future. cheers, Dean

1 comment:

Heather Morrison said...

Peter Suber has some comments on this post on Open Access News. Stay tuned for more librarian thoughts on this topic by Dean & other OA Librarians - or, post your own comments!

12:03 PM