Open Content Alliance (OCA) vs. Google Books: OCA as superior network and better fit for an emerging global public sphere

Morrison, Heather Open Content Alliance (OCA) vs. Google Books: OCA as superior network and better fit for an emerging global public sphere., 2000 [Preprint]


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English abstract

The Open Content Alliance (OCA) is a network of libraries and similar organizations committed to digitizing and providing broadest possible access to books and other materials; over 1.6 million books are already online under OCA principles. OCA is analyzed in contrast with Google Books (as per the preliminary Google Books Settlement, November 2009), using Castell’s network theory and theories of an emerging global public sphere, based on the work of Habermas and Fraser. OCA is seen as a superior network to Google Books, with particular strengths in connectedness, consistency (shared goals), flexibility, scalability, survivability, networking (inclusion / exclusion) power, and network-making power, including the ability to form strategic alliances. The lawsuit against Google Books, and the settlement, illustrate some of the limitations of Google Books as a network, for example the lawsuit per se is a challenge to Google Books’ rights to make decisions on inclusion and exclusion, and illustrates poor connectedness and consistency, two attributes Castells points to as essential to the performance of a network. The respectful, law-abiding approach of OCA is a good fit for a global public sphere, while the Google Books Settlement takes a key issue that has traditionally been decided by governments (orphan books), and brings the decision-making power into private contract negotiations, diminishing democracy. The current Google Books Settlement is fractured on a national (geographic) basis; consequences could include decreased understanding of the rest of the world by a leading nation, the U.S. This works against the development of a global public sphere, and has potential negative economic and security implications for the U.S.. OCA is presented as one node of an emerging library network for the global public sphere, a global public good increasing access to knowledge everywhere, increasing the potential for informed public debate towards global consensus.

Item type: Preprint
Keywords: Open Content Alliance, Google Books, network theory, public sphere, library networks
Subjects: E. Publishing and legal issues.
B. Information use and sociology of information
A. Theoretical and general aspects of libraries and information. > AB. Information theory and library theory.
Depositing user: Heather G Morrison
Date deposited: 16 Dec 2009
Last modified: 02 Oct 2014 12:16


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