31 August 2008

The debate on open access to Interactions Magazine

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Interactions 5
The September-October issue of Interactions Magazine has been published and is now shipping to all members of ACM’s Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction (SIGCHI).

The rest of us can access some limited content online (three articles in the current issue).

Now that Interactions has become a highly valuable UX resource, thanks to the strong leadership by the editors Richard Anderson and Jon Kolko, this restriction seems out of date and self-defeating. At least to me.

Elizabeth Churchill and I wrote an article where we make the case for open access to the contents of Interactions Magazine, which has been published in the current magazine (and is also available online):

In their reaction, Richard and Jon leave the argument open and do not yet take a clear position on the matter:

Richard: I admire the thinking underlying both OLPC and agile development, just as I admire the thinking underlying the concept of open access to intellectual content, as discussed by Elizabeth Churchill. But just as OLPC and agile development have their limits, so, too, does open access. Indeed, I don’t see it as appropriate for interactions magazine, at least not yet.

Jon: The first two ideas are nonobvious attempts at solving obvious problems. The third – open access – might be a novel idea to a nonissue. It could be argued that interactions magazine should cost money because the content in it is worth something: The content has value. I suppose it could also be argued that the magazine should be free so that value can be shared by the masses. To which argument do you subscribe?

Richard: Neither. The content in interactions is worth something – it has great value, but that alone doesn’t mean that the magazine should cost money. And though you and I are working to broaden the scope and readership of the magazine, it isn’t intended for the masses, and it can be argued that we can extend the reach of the magazine more effectively if it does cost money. Open access to interactions content might become appropriate. Indeed, we’ve already begun to increase access in a couple of ways. My point is that wicked problems don’t have simple solutions, an argument Don Norman makes in this issue.

What about you? Please join the debate by adding your comments at the end of either one of the articles (yes, commenting is enabled!).

And if you can access the contents, make sure to read the rest of the magazine, which is again a treasure trove.

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