If one word defines the coming decade it will probably be open. Now perhaps your sitting uncomfortably I shall begin. As the open access bandwagon rolls on to become a tank parked on our quad – what you’re not from Oxford? – it seems to have become an intersectional shibboleth on the future of education. Scientific scholars, under the secondary aegis of patents can distribute papers freely and openly as their labour and time is protected. Humanities and Arts scholars lack this shield in which to offer protection, and thus have every right to question what open means.
So, pushing the sales pitch to one side what’s different about Open Joyce. Firstly, we are inviting openness, not requiring openness – and all we mean by openness is on the web and not “All rights reserved”. We’re not here to proselytise or convert, or to mark the doors of Luddite Open Deniers so as to guide the angel of funding death.
Whereas with an author like Shakespeare, you can barely move around the internet without hitting some materials you can use, and he’s been dead long enough that most copyright has long since passed. With more recent authors, for whom much scholarly work is being produced there is much, much less material around – and the vast amount of it is still protected by the two-headed-hydra of Universities and copyright.
Openness – wearing it’s new hat – effectively relates to free access to materials but does nothing to help scholars gain access to materials on which resource could be based. A lot of Shakespeare materials in being both open and online, doesn’t help anyone get at the first folio. Now Open Joyce doesn’t have the drafts of Ulysses, or any correspondence, but we do have data sets we think people will find useful, and tools which have been written (such as the intertextual tool) which are innately not owned or controlled by a University. So rather than making the results of scholarly work open, we’re making the tools to help create scholarly work open.
So unlike Government mandated open access, to which you’ll likely have no choice, Open Joyce both makes no demands on you (bar feedback and requests are always nice), and rather than just being a site onto which open materials can be dumped, it proactively aims to create new spaces in which sharing resources (with a variety of licenses) can be beneficial.
Coupled with the research tools, there are also visualisations, teaching resources and commonly found tools such as concordancers. In doing so we create a space in which hopefully education and research can happen alongside each other. While we started this piece with a very dogmatic definition of openness as a potential stumbling block, we as OpenJoyce, hope you’d find us a useful resource and hopefully enjoyable as well.
Finally, conscious of how Openness can be beneficial to the founders, we’ve always avoided being called founders, or referring to Open Joyce as “our project”. We want people to be involved and to gain from being involved – the more the merrier and the more the better. We’d love to hear feedback and requests and if you’re Joycean to see you on the site.