Fifty Shades of Open

I couldn’t resist this.

I’ve been threatening to write a blog post called Fifty Shades of Open, and I’ve also been dying to play with to make an infographic. So here it is!

50shadesofopen title=

with particular thanks to Peter Reed for getting me to think further about the dimensions of openness stuff, which I started to explore in my post on the sunlight effect.

This is very much thoughts in beta. My main point here is that for me, the pure open, the “open as in heart”, is only one meaning of open. A pure one, but not the only one. In the open education space we are reaching the point that the open source movement reached with the “gratis vs libre” debate. That created the acceptance of a new umbrella name of Free and Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS). The purists cannot control the use of the word open. Some activities promoting themselves as open might actually be a very very very dark shade of grey. Yes, that is “openwashing”. But who polices the use of language around open? It’s not so simply dismissed as a black and white issue, for example, I still think that free is more important than editable. But what does “free” mean in this era of devices, cheap apps and user data business models?

I think ultimately, openness comes in fifty shades of grey.

… and since you ask, yes I have read all three books and I loved them!


2 thoughts on “Fifty Shades of Open

  1. Thanks for this post, Amber. I agree with you that “open” and “free” are used in multiple ways, and that we have no way of policing this – not even the Académie Française has that kind of power.

    However, I’m not sure what your conclusion is. I’d argue, as you know, that the diversity of meanings within open should not stop us from perusing the public release of materials in forms we can use and play with – and that we should be bold in using the word “open” to ask for this.

    What would be your position?

    (haven’t read the 50 shades books, sorry)

  2. Hi Amber,

    Thanks for giving me a mention. I’m glad to have got you thinking….

    I see ‘Anonymity of User’ being linked to a broader category of ‘Open Access’ – requirement to log-in is not just about anonymity, but also about the whole cost of time taken to access a resource, and having to hand over that personal data related to signing up, etc. If it is truly open access, we shouldn’t have to do/give anything in order to access it.

    Similarly, ‘Cost of Content’ is linked to Licensing – if we look at licensing on a scale, we might have GNU or CC-BY at one end, going to paid for services at the other end.

    I can see these discussions going on a bit… 🙂

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