ACTION: Open Letter - Help Liberate our Science -- please help!
This is perhaps the most advanced actionable idea that came to mind, on which I would like to collect as much feedback as possible.
For some while, I have been thinking about how to effectively leverage the huge and growing numbers of people and communities concerned and dissatisfied with our state of publishing. However, with no funding and almost no volunteers willing to dedicate their time at our disposal, the task of writing to any sizeable number of people is daunting. Thus I have been thinking, what would be at the same time:
- The most time-effective way to reach out to as many people as possible;
- Achieving the maximum impact from leveraging their voices;
- Making participation as quick and simple as possible, so even people who are busy could join within minutes.
To achieve 1, this has to be one single letter. It should use the maximally simple common unambiguous language, to be easily understandable to people from diverse backgrounds. And it should be as short as possible, to save people's time and minimize chances for confusion or misunderstanding. The message should be powerful but neutral, to accommodate the broadest variety of opinions. Here is my attempt of such a letter, where any critique is welcome:
Next, to achieve 2, the letter should work for diverse broad groups of recipients, who would be in power to implement the desired changes. I have been thinking for the moment of politicians, university deans/rectors, consortia/library directors/heads, but more suggestions are welcome.
As the main goal of this letter, I am thinking of inviting the recipient for a brief comment on another discussion thread on this forum. For maximum transparency, I'd like to conduct maximum discussion in public, while we, of course, will respect possible wishes to keep more detailed discussions private. It will probably help to re-emphasise at the top of each thread that all comments are editable and removable at any time.
While I would like to have some idea of the further steps in this process, it seems difficult at this stage.
Finally, 3 is where I need more of your help, especially if you have experience with software and platforms collecting people's lists and emails. To employ a somewhat scientific approach, I'd like to further subdivide 3 into sub-goals:
- 3.1. People/communities should be able to use any site or platform of their choice, to remove maximum barriers from their participation. Without any choice or familiarity with another platform, this forum can be also used.
- 3.2. All supporter's names should be publicly accessible. Shorter names should be allowed for privacy reasons.
- 3.3. People/communities should be able to subscribe to the updates. Communities should be able to subscribe a whole group of their members at once. It should be possible for people to subscribe/unsubscribe to individual discussions of their interest, to maximise the signal/noise ratio.
To simultaneously achieve 3.1 and 3.2, we can collect in one place all links to various outside list pages distributed over several sites.
For 3.3, people can subscribe/unsubscribe either manually or by commenting on any thread. A community leader can also post a comment welcoming and tagging several new supporters, who would be automatically subscribed.
Finally, there is the tricky issue with modifying the content of the letter, after some people have already signed. That we can try to avoid by trying to make the letter as final as possible, before adding signatures. Then, if any circumstances will force us to change the content, we can always keep several copies that people may or may not decide to sign. Hopefully, we won't have too many version, so the muti-tree network we would end up with won't be too complex :)
Finally (this time really finally), it would be good to start the letter circulation fairly soon. Especially, if you are aware of any ongoing large negotiations, we might try to send this letter to negotiation teams, to help them strengthen their position, possibly reaching out to their local communities and possibly prevent them from rushing into any unfavorable outcome.
In view of this, I would appreciate hearing your feedback as soon as possible, but also if you are currently busy but still wish to share some thoughts later, a quick comment indicating we should wait for them.