Newsletter #4: The Future And Summer Ahead
The Future Ahead
As we enter the summer, we have some important updates. July was our original deadline for our fundraising efforts. While we didn’t reach the sum we needed to build the website we envisioned, we do have some good news to share. We’ve built up quite a following, received many small donations from all over the world and some people have pledged to donate in kind. We also have a few real irons in the fire that we would like to announce in this newsletter. Given that we are a small team, not backed by venture capital or large foundations, and our efforts are grassroots and born from idealism, there is enough to be proud of for now.
While people have supported us by donating and spreading the word online and at conferences, we found that it is easier to get people on board when you can already offer something more concrete than the option to donate. So, as we enter the summer break, we will be working hard on addressing the situation by working on a number of initiatives that can help us become more visible, reach more people, and perhaps become a way to cross-subsidize the platform’s construction. These are:
1. A citizen science registry, to be developed with a number of major libraries. Here we give voice and visibility to scholarship carried out mostly outside academia, and very much in line with our vision to broaden the scope of recognized scholarship. NGOs could potentially hop on board this platform as well.
2. A cluster of branded preprint services in several fields, to be built with a group of learned societies and one or more IT non-profits.
3. An academic job wiki platform. In our quest for greater transparency in academia, encouraging more open communications about hiring processes and their experience (especially by early career scholars) can furnish us with significant evidence for best and worst practices, alleviate some pressure about the job market in a collegial way, and help build positive interactions among scholars. This may also become a modest revenue source at an early stage to help fundraise for further functionality in the site.
4. A development plan. We will be creating a development plan, especially as regards the latter service. We will share the plan with you as soon as we can in order to get your input.
In short, we hope to be able to offer encouraging news by the end of the summer. Meanwhile, we wanted to thank all of you for your generosity, kind interest and ongoing support. It’s been an exciting and productive nine months of activism for us, and thanks to you we can continue to push for greater openness and the democratization of knowledge around the world.
Our goal remains to provide a full response to the growing monopolies of commercial publishers and data merchants, and we believe that the best way to do so is to create a ground swell of resistance that is informed and empowered to deploy the (real) OA services already out there and use its capacity to develop new ones.
The Future Without Facebook
We have deleted our Facebook account! While we realise that leaving the tech giant is not a solution in itself to the way a select few for-profit Silicon Valley corporations increasingly monopolise our online activities, monetize our data and even have the power to profoundly manipulate our civic and political landscape, we do believe the #DeleteFacebook moment creates the much-needed momentum to start looking for and even working on sustainable alternatives. Freemium academic social networks are not much different to Facebook though, and as is often the case when something is free, you end up being the product.
That is why we aim to create a scholar-led and membership-based platform. As we go into summer and some of us may take a social media break, it is also worth bearing in mind that when a service is free it is not necessarily open. Free does not equal open, not does true and sustainable open access need to be free of charge. Often, these supposedly ‘free of charge’ platforms aren’t even that that free, the cost is simply displaced and the true societal, environmental and psychological cost of free platforms like Facebook is likely much higher than most people imagine today. So join us this summer in imagining, exploring, and even creating alternatives.
Best of Open Access Summer Reading
Finally, an open and fair scholarly network is about to happen!
- Martijn S
The whole point of academic research and academic writing is that it's transparent, reproducible and builds off previous work, so let's take the ownership of information away from the rich and powerful.
- Daan M.
Donate to ScholarlyHub so that we can create a scholarly social network together -one that doesn’t profit off your data or research but will be entirely non-profit and committed to the scholarly commons!