“Open Source” encapsulates the idea that knowledge should be free, and that people should be able to hack, modify or improve upon existing products. Can we imagine historical work “without owners and with multiple, anonymous authors,” as Rosenzweig puts it? What would that mean for the future of the historian’s craft?
Readings for Discussion
- “Academic Publishing: Of Goats and Headaches,” Economist (26 May 2011)
- Canadian Historical Association, “CHA on Copyright” (10 Sep 2009)
- Cohen, “The Social Contract of Scholarly Publishing,” DanCohen.org (5 March 2010)
- Cohen, “Open Access Publishing and Scholarly Values,” DanCohen.org (27 May 2010)
- Cohen, “A Conversation with Richard Stallman about Open Access,” DanCohen.org (23 November 2010)
- Fitzpatrick, “On Open Access Publishing,” Society for Critical Exchange (15 Jan 2010)
- Rosenzweig, “The Road to Xanadu: Public and Private Pathways on the History Web,” Journal of American History 88, no. 2 (Sep 2001): 548-579
- Rosenzweig, “Scarcity or Abundance? Preserving the Past in a Digital Era,” American Historical Review 108, no. 3 (Jun 2003): 735-762
- Rosenzweig, “Should Historical Scholarship Be Free?” AHA Perspectives (Apr 2005)
- Rosenzweig, “Can History Be Open Source? Wikipedia and the Future of the Past,” Journal of American History 93, no. 1 (Jun 2006): 117-146
- Kelty, “Introduction,” Two Bits: The Cultural Significance of Free Software (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008)
- Stallman, “The Free Software Definition,” (2004)
In the readings that you’ve done so far, you’ve learned that vast numbers of primary and secondary sources are either being digitized or are ‘born digital’ every year, and that the rate of online accumulation is increasing rapidly. Roy Rosenzweig argued that historians are in the midst of a shift from a culture of scarcity to a culture of abundance. How do you think that this shift to abundance will affect the daily practice of academic historians, public historians, cultural heritage professionals (at museums, libraries, archives), and the general public? Will some kinds of topics or methodologies become more or less prominent? Will there be a crisis of authority? Will ‘scarcity’ take on new meanings? Will new modes of historical consciousness arise? Feel free to focus on whatever aspects of the question most interest you. You should link to the work of other people when appropriate (of course), and your final essay should be between 750 and 1500 words.