Open Model as Instruments of an Effective Knowledge Ecology: Some Reflections with a Focus on the African Environment

Autore:Ginevra Peruginelli - Mariya Badeva Bright
Carica:Researcher at the Institute of Theory and Techniques of Legal Information of CNR - Coordinator of the African Legal Information Institute and is a sessional Lecturer at the School of Law of the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa.

Oggi è in atto una rivoluzione nella produzione e distribuzione della conoscenza a livello mondiale. Legato allo sviluppo delle tecnologie digitali, questo fenomeno è un fattore determinante di cambiamento nella vita stessa dei cittadini. Si parla in questo contesto di ecologia della conoscenza per indicare l’obiettivo (e le modalità per raggiungerlo), di una società incentrata sull’apertura, la... (visualizza il riepilogo completo)

Open Model as Instruments of an Effective Knowledge Ecology:
Some Reflections with a Focus on the African Environment
SUMM ARY:1. Introduction – 2. Open Models as New Instrument for Knowledge Ecol-
ogy – 3. A Glance to Open Models – 3.1. Open Data and Linked Data – 3.2. Open
Content – 3.3. Open Access – 4. The Open Knowledge Foundation – 5. General
Overview of the Socio-economic and Legal Environment with Respect to Open Con-
tent in Africa – 5.1. Socio-economic Constraints to Open Models in Africa – 5.2. Le-
gal and Policy Constraints to Open Models in Africa – 6. Brief Exposition of African
Projects Employing Open Models – 6.1. Open Data in Africa – 6.2. Open Content in
Africa – 6.3. Open Access in Africa – 7. Conclusion
It is undeniable that the Internet and the world wide web have brought
about major changes in every area of citizens’ lives. The revolution of dig-
ital technology radically changes the economics (the system of incentives)
and the law (the principles and rules) governing the production and dissem-
ination of knowledge.
Open models (implying open access, Open Data, open source, open con-
tent) become both models for organizing the production, distribution, and
usage of knowledge and expression of a new value system which is being
developed in an electronic environment.
Therefore, open models should be considered as alternative as well as
parallel to the actual commercial publishing models in the international in-
formation market and to international copyright regulations. In this context
the emphasis is on the principle that the dissemination process must be sub-
ordinated to users’ needs, and not the reverse. Open models also relocate
knowledge in society: they challenge the existence of thresholds, barriers
and boundaries, leading to effective access to knowledge.
G. Peruginelli is Researcher at the Institute of Theory and Techniques of Legal Infor-
mation of CNR and Professor under contract of Legal Informatics at School of Law of the
University of Perugia. M. Badeva Bright is Coordinator of the African Legal Information
Institute and is a sessional Lecturer at the School of Law of the University of the Witwater-
srand, South Africa. G. Peruginelli is the author of par. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 7. M. Badeva Bright is
the author of par. 5, 6 and 7.
390 Informatica e diritto /Il panorama internazionale e le buone pratiche
The ultimate goal of open models is to give information a “sense” that
is transforming raw data into useful things and applications, directly, easily
and without too much rework. To achieve this Open Data “chain” the data
should be:
open and raw so to be machine readable and easily reusable;
public or publicly available (on the Internet);
free from restrictions on their use which can be of a commercial na-
identifiable through metadata;
linkable so that by a simple URI, data can be point to, metadata be
examined, and information be downloaded.
The role of open models is to create a new concept of knowledge as a com-
mons which derives from the “knowledge ecology” concept. Knowledge
ecology is about studying and enhancing the ways in which the parts and
wholes of knowledge-generating systems relate to one another. It provides
a framework for organizations who want to maximize their benefits from
emerging technologies to facilitate effectivecollaboration among their mem-
bers. Therefore, the central objective of knowledge ecology is to achieve the
goal of people-centered, inclusive and sustainable knowledge societies. A
participatory and representative knowledge ecology can achieve readability,
findability, connecting disparate and closely related information, enabling
communication between users in order that new knowledge is created1.
A new consensus needs to be achieved on traditional concepts such as
freedom of information and science, intellectual property and authorship.
Nowadays, with the crisis of the market paradigm, there is a chance for a
rebirth of the old idea of the commons and for the creation of an Open Data
Some of the key premises underlying the notion of knowledge ecology
may be extrapolated, based upon the observations of the natural ecosys-
tems2. These are as follows:
Knowledge ecology primarily focuses on social networks of individ-
uals in contrast to the overly technological emphasis of traditional
1B. BOWOND ER, T. MIYAK E,Technology Management: A Knowledge Ecology Perspective,
in “International Journal of Technology Management”,Vol. 19, 2000, n. 7-8, pp. 662-684.
2Y.MA LHOT RA,Knowledge Management for Organizational White-Waters: An Ecological
Framework, in “Knowledge Management”, March1999, pp. 18-21.

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