Blog Post

Hastac and academy commons

Their future is in your hands

How will tomorrow’s university resist the intrusions of neoliberal economics? How will universities and societies optimize their growing corpuses of open data and research findings? Hastac is a great place to share knowledge and build imaginative solutions to answer these questions. Over the past two decades, a lot of attention has been given to the need for open scholarship. Open is good. But the academy needs to go further.


If everything else (universities, academic careers, learned societies, publishers, etc.) were to stay the same tomorrow but all the academic outcomes were open, certainly a lot of time and (assuming a universal green open model) money would be saved. Nothing wrong with that. But the academy would still be broken in most of the ways it is today.

The symptoms of this disfunction show up across the academic workplace and across the planet: from faculties with a majority of underclass workers (adjuncts and soft-money researchers), publishers looking for “sexy science,” career decisions based on journal impact factors instead of integral value of the research, a fixation on “excellence” instead of competence, important primary-research intellectual property being pulled away from future reuse through patents that never pay a penny, research funding warped to favor the already funded, funding programs that consume all most as much gross effort in the proposal process than gets finally funded. OK. I’m going to stop here. You can add your own “Academy is Broken” stories HERE.  You can also add your own experimental or imagined solutions to how the academy is broken!

Nearly everything that is broken in the academy is broken because the current academy assumes a logic of scarcity; a false logic it has acquired from other markets. One of the promises of open academic outcomes is that these resources are non-rivalrous. As digital objects, they can be discovered and used by everyone, and their value actually increases the more they get reused. Open academic outcomes lets the academy dip its big toe into the logic of abundance. The point is not to stop here, but to dive in and allow this new logic to refactor the academy.

As a first step, a small group is meeting this month at Indiana University’s Ostrom Workshop (sith some funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation). The goal is to kickstart the crafting of design patterns for academy commons based on peer-to-peer production.  After this initial charrette, the effort will go public and all Hastac members are welcome to join in and contribute whatever they can. There will be future opportunities for leadership and experimentation.

If you are really interested in joining this effort, please let me know <>! The team can expand to embrace your voice and energy. 


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