Abstract: In recent months, “Openness” (in the form of MOOCs, OAI, the “Academic Spring”) has moved from the relatively obscure concern of a few librarians and internet geeks to the subject of New York Times articles, daily updates in the Chronicle, and the radar screens of University faculty and administrators. All of which begs the question: Just what is (and ISN’T) “Open”? How is it defined? For all the reams written on “Open” topics, there is a paucity of theoretical support for “Openness”; the “Open” is generally assumed not to need a definition and even less to need a justification. Professor Gilbert will argue that this is a role that the Humanities should assume, and that the philosophical vacuum in this area is doing damage not just to Openness, but the academy itself. He will tilt towards provocative points of view: That the various Open initiatives would benefit from a “Grand Unified Theory,” and that Openness is either a new Humanity, or a force that may well subsume the Humanities. Finally, drawing from sources ranging from literature to librarianship to social theory, he will offer some preliminary thoughts on defining The Open, and seek to engage his audience in refining these notions. Note that these remarks will not be technical in nature, and all with a general interest are encouraged to attend!
Bruce Gilbert grew up on an Iowa dairy farm and was a railroad worker before garnering degrees in history, library science, and public administration from Iowa State University, the University of Iowa, and Drake University, respectively. He began his service at Drake in 1992 when he was hired as the institution’s first Systems Librarian, and is currently the Director of Library Instruction at Cowles Library; among his accomplishments is helping to establish eScholarShare, the University’s Institutional Repository for scholarly material.