Complicating open access to information
In a new article on First Monday
, Sandra Braman complicates the issue of open access to information. She is seemingly speaking back to those who put a heavy emphasis on open access information, most notably John Willinsky
(a speaker this fall at the EdLab seminar). She might argue that the emphasis on open access to information should be on the ways in which "information acquires meaning and fulfills its role as a constitutive social force", rather than the singular emphasis on "openness".
Those in the openness movement believe that access to information is inherently democratic, and assume the effects of openness will all be good from the movement's perspective. But means are not ends, nothing is inevitable, and just what will be done with openly available information once achieved is rarely specified. One implicit goal of the openness movement is to create and sustain politically useful memory in situations in which official memory may not suffice, but to achieve this, openness is not enough. With the transition from a panopticon to a panspectron environment, the production of open information not only provides support for communities but also contributes to surveillance. Proprietary ownership of information is being challenged, but there is erosion of ownership in the sense of being confident in what is known. Some tactics currently in use need to be re—evaluated to determine their actual effects under current circumstances. Successfully achieving tactical memory in the 21st century also requires experimentation with new types of tactics, including those of technological discretion and of scale as a medium. At the most abstract level, the key political battle of the 21st century may not be between particular political parties or ideologies but, rather, the war between mathematics and narrative creativity.