Open Access and Open Data for the Information and Knowledge Economy

Transparent windows at the White House: Open Access (OA) on a roll!!!

Posted by infokelele on March 1, 2013

Amid the news of the sequester doom and gloom, the White House has released a brand new policy guidance on Open Access rightly hailed by many as earth shaking.

The move is unprecedented. First, it is being coordinated and overseen from the highest levels of the executive branch. Second, the federal policy now goes beyond biomedical research outputs. This silences the ‘too limited coverage’ critics of the past policy. Third, it advances economic freedom. The right of individuals to benefit from their literary properties remains protected as are their privacy and confidentiality rights. Fourth, it is good public policy. It paves the way for entrepreneurs and industries to benefit from research outputs financed by tax payer money while also protecting the general public from unduly unwarranted ‘double taxation’.

It is a comprehensive yet simple policy guidance I would recommend to every single government serious about implementing Open Access.

Considering the one-up-one- down competition between the White House and Congress, I expect the legislative branch of government to be playing catch up pretty soon. From what I hear, some bills are already pending in both the House and the Senate.

Methinks the broadband access provisions will ultimately have to be addressed through the agency public access provisions!

With all these exciting new developments, what could possibly go wrong with Open Access?


Posted in Open Access, Open Government | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Taking Stock 2012 and Looking Ahead!

Posted by infokelele on January 18, 2013

Happy New Year 2013 to all my readers!!! When I started posting 8 months ago, I had no idea that there would be such a strong interest in the topics I have described in the ‘About the Author’ section of this blog but I have been pleasantly surprised. At the close of last year, with only 13 posts, we had a total readership of about 800 people, October being our best month with about 300 unique visitors.

In case you are wondering, the most popular post has been ‘The Quartet of Open Access, Broadband, Romeo and Juliet’. ‘Is there a Gini co-efficient on Open Access …..’ and ‘Open Access: The Good, The Not So Bad and The Ugly?’ come a close second and third, suggesting a wider interest in the Economic Impact of Open Access and the role of Broadband in the Openness of development.

Geographically, we have a global interest with visitors from nearly every country ranging from nearly 500 views in the United States to an average of 50 in countries like the Netherlands and South Africa and about 20 in Switzerland.

With this level of interest, I am encouraged to keep posting this year. I look forward to your continued interest, patronage and a healthy discussion.

To keep these discussions going, be sure to continue visiting this blog and while at it, leave a comment, like a post, ping me and feel free to link content to your own and other blogs. Re-blog if you must but please acknowledge the source!

Thank you so very much again!

Posted in Broadband, Development, Open Access | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Open Internet Advisory Committee Meeting: Live Webcast (January 17, 2013, 10:00 A.M. to 12:00 P.M. PST)

Posted by infokelele on January 16, 2013

There will be an Open Internet Advisory Committee meeting open to the public on January 17, 2013, from 10:00 A.M. to 12:00 P.M. PST covering Mobile Broadband, Economic Impacts of Open Internet Frameworks, Specialized Services and Transparency.

To participate in the Webcast, go to

Posted in Broadband, Economic Development, Open Internet, Transparency | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

World Bank releases International Debt Statistics 2013 and it’s all Open

Posted by infokelele on January 7, 2013

Check it out at and see also a related blog at

Posted in Open Data | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

The Interplay between Open Access and Public Access

Posted by infokelele on December 19, 2012

A part of the ongoing justification for Open access is that Open Access content available online through Public Access channels have a multiplier effect on development hence the need to expand Open Access at the same time as Public Access to information.

Below are findings on two recent studies on this claim.

A. Public access, private mobile: The interplay of shared access and the mobile Internet for Teenagers in Cape Town

Discussion is structured around five claims:

1. Public access and private mobiles offer different affordances, and teenage users have developed complex, fine-grained practices which help them to negotiate the respective strengths and weaknesses of the affordances.

2. The public access venue provides non-substitutable impact to resource-constrained users, even those with “the Internet in their pocket.”

3. Public access supports the development of digital literacies associated with hyperlinked media and large-format documents, while mobile access supports everyday social literacies and messaging.

4. Teens can use a combination of mobile and public access Internet resources to participate in networked media production and grassroots economic mobilization.

5. Public access venue operators can improve venue rules and skills to encourage the complementary use of the mobile Internet.

Full research report

Recommended Citation – Walton, M., Donner, J., 2012. Public access, private mobile: The interplay of shared access and the mobile Internet for teenagers in Cape Town. Global Impact Study Research Report Series. Cape Town, South Africa: University of Cape Town.

B – Public access and development: The impact of public access venues and the benefits of libraries


Public access to information and communication technologies (ICTs) can play an important role in development. Communities benefit when people can access information and communicate with experts and people in their social networks to learn about health, jobs, education, leisure activities, or whatever inspires them. When access to ICTs is public and available to everyone in the community, such as in public libraries, telecenters, and cybercafés, it can be an effective tool for those that need it most. The findings in the brief are evident at all venues in the public access landscape, including libraries. However, in some instances, libraries may offer users unique benefits.

Clark, M., Sey, A., & Sullivan, J. (2012). Public access and development: The impact of public access venues and the benefits of libraries. Seattle: Technology & Social Change Group, University of Washington Information School.

About the Study

The Global Impact Study of Public Access to Information & Communication Technologies is a five-year project (2007-2012) to generate evidence about the scale, character, and impacts of public access to information and communication technologies. Looking at libraries, telecenters, and cybercafes, the study investigates impact in a number of areas, including communication and leisure, culture and language, education, employment and income, governance, and health. The research is supported by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Learn more at

Posted in Development, ICTs, Open Access, Public Access | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

What’s next after overcoming the digital divide?

Posted by infokelele on December 1, 2012

Check this out.


Posted in Economic Development, International Development, Mobile phones, Open Data | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Developing economies to eclipse west by 2060, OECD forecasts

Posted by infokelele on November 15, 2012

That’s a bold statement!

But it is also the verdict of one of the latest OECD reports, Looking to 2060: A Global Vision of Long-Term Growth, most recently also referenced by the Guardian.

The underlying assumptions:

  • Unemployment in the west will go back to the numbers prior to the latest global financial crisis.
  • Productivity will grow faster in developing economies thanks in part to ICTs and its enabling openness that brings higher returns to scale and valuable innovations but market reforms including labor market reforms would be just as key determinants.
  • Significant improvements in education in the forecast high growth countries.

Growth data is provided at the macro-level; that in itself normally masks the actual extent of wellbeing but usually not bad as a starting point in understanding the best interventions to increase per capita income levels as well!

The book, The fastest billion – The Story Behind Africa’s Economic Revolution, places Africa in this growth trajectory with a caveat – an average of a 2 per cent annual growth rate would have to be maintained over the next three decades. The book dares suggest that the break out countries could have as strong economies as today’s strongest by 2048. Because of the tremendous diversity of the continent, the reader is advised to look at individual country analyses to get a better sense of specific high growth spots.

Five years ago, in their widely acclaimed publication, Sub-Saharan Africa: Key Issues to 2012, Oxford Analytica put a finger on these trends. They seem to have been spot on.

Technology is the main driver with Open Access and Open Data putting more countries at a more competitive advantage. The comparative advantages of the yester years just wont do. They remain important but their importance can’t nearly match the innovations of the Open Economies. These days for instance, when you want to know where mobile money is driving the fastest growth, you don’t look anywhere else other than Kenya’s M-Pesa for the best lessons. And we will not have heard the last of international companies scrambling for a piece of the action from the innovation labs of Nairobi. The interest is not limited to Nairobi. These days, it is an exception if a single week passes by without an Africa investors’ conference happening somewhere.

The trends are supported by the accompanying trends in ICT in Development rankings

The developments just go on to demonstrate how Economic Development can be barren without wider Political Emancipation. As Open Access and Open Data initiatives open up opportunities for wider more meaningful political participation, leadership accountability and transparency in the management of public affairs, countries that had been missing these ingredients will see even larger sustainable spurts in their economic growth than has been already projected!

Over to you, what do you think?

Posted in Economic Development, Open Access, Open Data, Technology | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Quartet of Open Access, Broadband, Romeo and Juliet

Posted by infokelele on November 1, 2012

PLOS, SPARC and OASPA  have now released their joint verdict on Open Access (OA). You can check it out at HowOpenIsIt?.

The resource seems to be targeted at OA authors and funders of public research. The crux of the matter being the choice of journals for publishing. From that standpoint, it seems fair to suggest that Romeo and Juliet now have one more company. But some vital questions still remain.

At the center of the debate is the notion that publicly funded research should not be subject to subscription fees for full access and use including re-use as appropriate by the general public. Economically, this constitutes a negative externality, an undesirable outcome on public goods. Politically, it disenfranchises and socially, it is parasitic.

On the one hand are the public whose tax monies have been used to pay for the research and rightly so should not be subject to another double payment whether through libraries, their employers or individually to access the outputs of this research including the underlying metadata.  Essentially, if that happens, the markets have failed.

Unfettered economic opportunities are the whole point of free market competition. This is one of the points where the value for profitable Open Access lies for the wider public. Because of this, there should be no unjustifiable restriction whatsoever on the use of outputs from research funded from the public coffers.

Such hurdles represent missed economic opportunities, undermine innovations and run counter to free markets so the argument goes. Again from an economic standpoint, competition assures the right pricing and as wide access to the resulting services or products as possible within specific business contexts.

However, on the other hand are large commercial publishers who disagree, sometimes very vehemently with the above propositions. The reasons for the disagreements are many and contentious.

But should the arguments for Open Access be limited to these supply side issues alone? I think not!

For Open Access to be truly open and be a value adder to development, I would argue that proactively addressing the demand side of the equation is just as crucial. And one of the key demand side factors is the CONNECTIVITY QUESTION. With the latest proliferation of affordable broadband-capable mobile access devices, the time is surely ripe! Of course there is the question of cybersecurity especially for mobile devices but that is a matter well addressed under risk.

In my view, unnecessary and unjustifiable cost and licensing barriers are already getting more than their fair share of attention and already there are many proposed solutions on the table.

Now is the time to start putting a laser focus on the connectivity barriers especially broadband access in tandem with the other barriers. Many studies correlate broadband access with significant economic growth and individual advancement.

Considering online access is the primary medium for Open Access content, Open Access advocates must now start including Broadband Access as a significant component of the Open Access equation. Wider broadband access would also lower broadband pricing, another win-win situation for researchers and non-researchers alike including institutions.

For the above reasons, if I were to add anything to the PLOS, SPARC and OASPA guidelines, it would be a 7th column on Broadband Connectivity.

Access for access sake itself doesn’t go nearly enough!!

Posted in Broadband, Economic Development, Mobile phones, Open Access, Tablets | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Happening Now – Liveblog and Webcast

Posted by infokelele on October 24, 2012

Open Access Week at the World Bank

Also check out this –

Pending big “ticket” items:

Tune in!

Posted in Open Access, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Is there a Gini co-efficient on Open Access (OA) and how beautiful is that?

Posted by infokelele on October 9, 2012

Some would say that it is in the eye of the beholder!

PLOS –, SPARC – and OASPA – are among the latest groups currently having their say on this matter. The joint group will be releasing a final version of their consultative findings during the 2012 Open Access Week (October 22 -28). Stay tuned for that outcome.

The PLOS/SPARC/OASPA document is now closed for public comments but you can view the draft at or (unbelievable as it may sound, I didn’t get to see the request for public comments until after the deadline).

I suspect we wont be hearing the last of what should really constitute ‘proper’ Open Access anytime soon. Many people have their take but despite the consensus that there is growing clarity on the subject, the outcome of the debate still depends on who you ask.

In case you missed it, infokelele’s own earlier post on this subject can still be found at .

What in your view would you say “Open Access” is or should constitute?

Posted in Open Access | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

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