DeadGuyQuotes's Blog

American History in the Making

Sticking Your Head In The Sand


When reading The Access Principle by John Willinsky, I was particularly intrigued with the way Willinsky approached the topic of open access and politics. Essentially, the message is more information and access to scholarly research and evidence can and should inform the global, national, or local political policy debates. Ideally, members of the government, bureaucrats or politicians, should have access to the latest and best of academic research. More importantly, members of a democratic society should have access to the same. Realized, this brave new world would be filled with informed, reasoned debate. Journalism would live up to its ideals, and mysticism, emotion, and rhetoric would fall down to evidence and logic.

Sounds like the Reformation.

In fact, Willinsky references the impact of the printing press on the same event.

He bravely faces the critical issues surrounding this most noble ideal: context; context and the informed and capable public able to read the material. This is not to say that people aren’t intelligent enough, but there is a problem given at least the American society today. Willinsky points to it when he quotes Christopher Forrest, “The public reads the bottom line.” I will tell you from personal experience that bureaucrats, politicians, soldiers, and any government support personnel also read “the bottom line.” Massive and complex issues are dealt with in one-page summaries. Detailed and sensitive issues are handled in boiled-down bullets. Willinsky espouses a fantastic ideal, but reality still presents a problem.

I have previously expressed concern over the information age in that we have too much information and very few efficient and effective tools to cull through the mountains of data and conclusion. Opening all the doors to the ivory tower’s basement will further complicate the overwhelming sense of information overload. As a collection of academics, citizens, and servants we must work harder on good knowledge management tools and principles to better see the future that Willinsky calls for.

Until then, I may just play the role of ostrich…

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November 24, 2009 - Posted by | Clio I - History and New Media

4 Comments »

  1. No – you must use your talents to help to create those tools!

    Comment by lprice3 | November 24, 2009 | Reply

  2. but he plays the role so well

    Comment by John Henry | November 24, 2009 | Reply

  3. I don’t see why you’re opposed to opening doors to the ivory tower. If the argument is that it’s too difficult to find relevant information, then people won’t be bale to find information even with open doors.

    I completely agree about creating better tools to find stuff, but I don’t see how opening doors is going to increase anybody’s information load, unless they choose to walk through those doors.

    Am I missing something?

    Comment by rpooley | November 24, 2009 | Reply

  4. I am not opposed to opening the doors at all! I am wary of any immediate change in the global, national, or local dialogue as a result. From a purely socio-political standpoint, democracy takes a lot of work and the “bottom line” requirement for efficiency often wins over laborious research.

    If we, as a group, can make the effort more efficient, I believe the dream has a better chance of becoming reality.

    Comment by DeadGuyQuotes | November 24, 2009 | Reply


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