It is axiomatic that the rate of change in technological systems initially outpaces human capacity to adapt to the technological advances. This is particularly true for transformational technologies that displace their antecedents, including the associated organizational paradigms. Such a transformation is currently taking place as a result of the technological revolution brought about by the combination of digital information technologies and global communication networks. The pre-internet legacy business model for research journals and data centers that restricts access to and use of publicly funded scientific information, however, is not taking advantage of the potential benefits of national and global open availability online. Such a business model consequently is slowing the progress of science and socioeconomic development. The question, therefore, is not whether open availability to publicly-funded research information is better than access provided on terms that are economically, legally, and tec hnologically restricted, but how open availability and re-use can be most effectively institutionalized and how quickly.
There are, in fact, multiple paths that are being taken to make this transition from restricted to open dissemination and use. The evolutionary human systems are thus beginning to respond to the opportunities made possible by the revolutionary technologies embodied in global digital networks. A gradual, but highly significant and far-reaching restructuring of scientific communication in public research is taking place. This presentation will review some of these institutional developments and their rationale, and will conclude with a description of an emerging model of online open knowledge environments for scientific communication that integrates these disparate institutional developments in a holistic thematic hub of interactive knowledge production, dissemination, and use.
[This presentation is based on a recently published article, Paul F. Uhlir (2006). & quot;The emerging role of open repositories for scientific literature as a fundamental component of the public research infrastructure. & quot; In Open Access: Open Problems. G. Sica (ed.). Polimetrica. Torino, Italy. The views expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.]