After a brief interlude to share our wireframes, we return to our Open Index story series. Today we hear from David John Evans, System Development Coordinator at Knowledge for All.
In my experience of developing Web applications for academic libraries and archives, I have found that while open software sounds attractive in theory, often in practice there will be external factors which prevent institutions exploiting its advantages.
Many decision makers within academic circles will have a hands-off approach to information technology. Open source solutions in particular tend to have a hard time coming up against institutional inertia, with a pervasive attitude of "if we pay for it, it must be good". Once an institution is "locked in", however, they find that the vendor pays considerably less attention to them and their needs, they receive little or no support, and deficiencies in service can go uncorrected for long periods of time.
As someone who is committed to the ideals of the open software movement, I want to be able to help organisations avoid these traps as they save valuable resources in time and money.
My Vision for Change
If we are going to stand any chance of wresting control of indexes from corporate interests, it is important that we don't exchange one tyrant for another. Providing data in reusable, interoperable formats must be part of any solution we propose.
The fact that a solution such as the Knowledge for All index originates from that same academic community as it aims to serve will be a key factor in accumulating goodwill and eventually uptake from institutions.
Why I support Knowledge for All’s Open Index
As financial pressures are being felt in the sector, every opportunity to embrace the benefits of open data should be encouraged. I believe Knowledge for All is the right idea at the right time, and one that can be the first step in changing the infrastructure of electronic publishing for the benefit of everyone in the academic community.