Ted Nelson, Libraries, and Openness

It seems appropriate that we read in this seminar excerpts from Ted Nelson’s Computer Lib / Dream Machines, since next week is Open Access Week at Virginia Tech Libraries.
I don’t believe I’m far off in saying that Ted Nelson’s ideas in CL/DM are too distant from open access, or that the open access and open source ideologies gained momentum from Nelson. Indeed, Nelson’s prescience about librarians has become a tenet of librarianship.

If the computer had evolved from the telegraph (which it just might have), perhaps the librarians would have hoarded it conceptually as much as the math and engineering people have.

Librarians are stalwarts of digital media freedom. The democratic nature of knowledge, the availability of resources to all, the promotion for the common good–these are parts of librarian mantra (and not the stereotypical “Shhhh”). Librarians have embraced the computer as among the most valuable assets in information, and they constantly remake librarianship, expanding the profession as technologies allow.
Knowledge belongs to everyone, and all media of communicating knowledge also belong to everybody. Proprietary claims on computing technologies are important for businesses to thrive. Allowing people to tinker with software is important to working creativity into the software, in ways that expand the human intellect and imagination.

About j.d.grunert

Historian, Science and Technology Studier, Librarian, Academish
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One Response to Ted Nelson, Libraries, and Openness

  1. A. Nelson says:

    I agree about Ted Nelson as a natural ally to Open Access week! Your “nugget” (quote) and the nuances of your post also speak to that tension that appears whenever something important is at stake — the push of sharing, transparency, and democracy vs. the pull of control, profit, and selectivity. As Ted Nelson reminds us: “Knowledge is power so it tends to be hoarded.”

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