Brew dog, a small self proclaimed ‘craft beer’ manufacturing company based in Scotland, made the news in the last week or two, when they ‘Openly’ published their full back catalogue of beer recipes. I'm not really a beer drinker, but yippee!
The two people who started up the brewery did so as hobbyists initially, before launching as an actual business. Their motivations for doing this from their release statements, taken at face value, seem straightforward enough. If you’re of a more cynical cast you might view it as a smart marketing strategy as they try to crowd source the next stage of their businesses expansion financing.
It’s really irrelevant to this discussion as it represents the ‘normalising’ of the Open concept in the wider public domain. Openess is percolating through the ether, it's catching. We need to watch that it's dispersal, doesn't lead to a subversion of original intentions and purposes, but allows a congruent, shared development of future aims and uses.
As a hobby country wine maker myself, I recognize the brewers enthusiasm for sharing the experiences, ideas and recipes, tried and tested, with others with the same interests. This is a long-standing tradition within the communities of wine and beer makers. As it is with many hobbies, crafts, arts and sciences.
So is this open approach to sharing truly ‘disruptive’ as so often claimed?
Surely it is more that the closed, secretive, protectionist and possessive approach was the disruptor. Human survival and social interactions required open collaboration, sharing of information and working together, and it’s these behaviours that have allowed us to thrive and survive to the point we have so far.
If we are to truly return to this way of cooperating and sharing by ‘disrupting’ the current status quo, there are a number of things we need to consider, not least, facilitating practical sharing, hosting and posting strategies and repositories that are accessible to all. As things stand we have a rather chaotic and confusing situation within the educational environment specifically. Approaches across the world vary and the pace of change politically, legally, institutionally and individually, is at best uneven.
The US government is pushing through changes on the use of open resources in education, opening access to data. Large organisations such as NASA are releasing vast repositories of data from their research, missions and explorations. Indian, African, European, Latin American states and the near, middle and far east are adopting Open practices and OERs with enthusiasm and at scale. Whilst here in the UK, as ever, we are in constant discussions, with little movement from the perspective of those of us creating things we want to be able to share and those trying to find things to reuse. As has been highlighted in recent discussions in the ALT OER SIG.
There is no doubt in my mind that there is a really strong drive to push the Open agenda forward within education here. However, the loss of funded projects on OER recently, confusion over licensing (CC) and institutional contracts and OER practices, amongst many factors, seem to be pulling the rug out from under Opens progress.
So we need to develop some really creative and focused resolutions to these problems, thinking within the wider realities of peoples needs and daily lives. As more recent changes in employment practices in the sector and more generally, are likely to impact on level of availability and quality of OER resources created and generated. As pointed out in a recent discussion.
‘But it seems to me that few in the open education movement are discussing how those who teach and produce educational resources will earn a reasonable living in the future. And this issue is coming into sharper focus as 'funded' OER projects become rarer. Can we really expect someone on a short-term poorly paid contract to create good resources in "their own time”?
Terry Loane ‘OER SIG conversation 03/03/2016
If we fail to consider and adapt how people will be able to make a living and support their families whilst openly sharing their hard work, we plan the failure of Open, just as we envision it. So let’s work together to prevent that failure and share all our beer!
Just in case you would like to try a Brewdog brew, here is the Open Recipe Archive link.
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