Friday, June 16, 2006

Access and That 'Triple Sided Economy'

I keep thinking about Willinsky's charge of 'inefficiency' as being what I would think of as more varied access.

Kristin mentioned this earlier in terms of how he is discussing labor. When I read it, I keep thinking of A. Suresh Canagrajah's book The Geopolitics of Academic Writing which really shows some of Willinsky's concerns as being beside the point when it comes to access for periphery scholars. In areas where electricity is not guaranteed, scholars still use typewriters, access to paper for printing/photocopying is scarce, and where scholarly approaches different than those valued by western scholarship are used, this doesn't mean all that much. The journals and research Willinsky focuses on are those dominated by western scholarship. Even many of the so-called international journals have a decidedly anglo- or western European focus.

Anyway, part of my point is that those printed copies of journals are actually more reliable as information sources in some communities. Using them doesn't depend on electricity, computer hardware, software, etc. In the example Willinsky opens the intro with, I think this is evident. If this library had access to print subscriptions to these journals, scholars in this community would not need to sign up for the limited time available on that one computer.

Don't get me wrong, I love having as much electronic access as possible, but I don't necessarily think that open electronic access can ever truly be universal open access.

Yes, I am crabby about this. And I suspect I still will be crabby when I read further.


Dorothea said...

That's only IF the printed resources can get there in the first place. Big assumption, as big as the assumption of wiredness.

k8 said...

True, but my point is more a critique of Willinsky's optimistic (and I would say overly optimistic) view of the universal effects of oa. It is great for those who have the material means necessary for electronic access, but it doesn't mean access for everybody.

Part of the reason he doesn't address this could be that he, imho, he is trying to do too much in this book and, as a result, he doesn't deal with any of the issues in as much depth (probing the advantages and the problems) as I would like. It seems superficial, and as such, not as reflective as I would like. I just want to see him consider some of these type of access problems too.