February 2008

Let knowledge flow freely!

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According to the Wikipedia, Open Publishing is a process of creating news or other content that is transparent to the readers. They can contribute a story and see it instantly appear in the pool of stories publicly available. Those stories are filtered as little as possible to help the readers find the stories they want. Readers can see editorial decisions being made by others. They can see how to get involved and help make editorial decisions. If they can think of a better way for the software to help shape editorial decisions, they can copy the software because it is free and change it and start their own site. If they want to redistribute the news, they can, preferably on an open publishing site.

Internet sites run on open publishing software allow anyone with Internet access to visit the site and upload content directly without having to penetrate the filters of traditional media. Several fundamental principles include non-hierarchy, public participation, minimal editorial control, and transparency.

Open Publishing should be distinguished from Open Access Publishing, the publishing of material organised in such a way that there is no financial or other barriers to the user. (All or almost all the open publishing is in fact also open access.).

The lead project that has inspired the open publishing movement globally is covered in this issue. It revolves around the Project Gutenberg, which has nearly 37 years of experience in bringing to the public digital domain books for open access. The public domain and the concept of the commons though well known in the natural resources domain is little understood in the digital world. Copyright restrictions and new changes in WIPO are the biggest problem areas, which would make the million books online project, a consortium of the Project Gutenberg to reach its goal sooner.

In order to fully exploit the potential of the knowledge economy, it is important that it does not get locked in. The concept of the commons and alternatives to licensing regimes that are prevalent in the field of intellectual property is a complex subject and we have tried in this issue to bring to the attention of the readers the latest developments.

In order for the materials that are available on the Internet to be legally hassle-free, and accessible to differently-abled people's requirements, there are some interesting software and development tools that have been examined. It is important to understand that this field is fairly nascent, and there is need to create massive awareness.

We hope that you enjoy reading this issue, and also suggest other innovative experiments that further the commons philosophy.

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