Presentation Open Access

A decentralized scholarly commons

Robinson, Danielle

Today’s scholarly research outputs (data, publications, and other digital objects) are stored and accessed via a centralized Web-based infrastructure. Those who control infrastructure and platforms also control content preservation, storage, and access. Centralization has shaped the discovery, access, and reuse of scholarly outputs. Issues such as link rot and inadequate documentation hinder scholarly work. Meanwhile, privatization of online scholarly resources has lead to global inequality in information access, as private web-based services inherently prioritize those with the resources to pay for access. Decentralization introduces a new model for how data are stored, shared, and accessed. Decentralized models require the engagement of network participants and have the potential to create a sustainable scholarly commons. We are collaborating with California Digital Library, San Diego Supercomputer Center, and the Internet Archive to add decentralized properties to their existing data preservation systems. Our shared goal is to spread redundant verified copies of data across many institutions, ensuring open access and reducing long-term costs for libraries. We envision this network as a key step in the cultural repositioning of open knowledge as a commons. It’s time to ask whether traditional, centralized Web architecture aligns with scholarly priorities and values, and to collaboratively move towards new approaches that do.

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