A World Without Database Vendors?

BeerBrarian has a post which explores the result of a hypothetical 100% open access world:

As a thought experiment, let’s say we “win.” Professional and academic associations go open access, as much of physics has. The Directory of Open Access Journals is able to capture the far majority of these newly free works, and in turn these are snapped up by library catalogs thanks to link resolvers and discovery services. The same happens with the Directory of Open Access Books with regards to chapters in edited volumes.

But there’s a catch: DOAJ’s search function is not, to put it politely, robust. And there’s a larger problem behind search functionality thanks to incomplete metadata. Link resolvers and discovery services that pull from that search, culling that metadata, will lead to frustrated end users who cannot access and discover what they’re looking for.

Where BeerBrarian takes the argument is fairly close to where I would take it as well:  vendors and other access providers would compete for our business through ease of use, comprehensive access, and other service-oriented activities.

I am not a fan of the business model of “if we have exclusive control to a resource, they have to pay us what we can get away with”.    This creates disincentives for improvements (why spend money and resources to improve service if you don’t really need to?) and leads to monopolistic thinking, which is a long-term detriment in an information economy.

So what would an open access world be like?  We would have more resources like Google Scholar, and the costs for accessing information would be far less than they are today – more because of increased competition for services and fewer monopolies on information itself.

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