OA is our work ideology
We’re not only propagating Open Access (= free access to all information for everyone - no worries, the colour of your underwear is not “information” in this sense), and putting it into practice by the flipping of Dialectica (in a quite limited domain) and by the workbench (in an already considerably larger domain), but we actually believe in it. This means that everything we do should be public, openly accessible and transparent (incl. with respect to the reasons why we do what we do). This has several advantages:
- It is the right thing to do, morally and politically. There is no justifiable reason to withhold information from those concerned and interest, just because they happen not to be part of the “in” group.
- It improves our work. You’re working better if (at least in principle) others watch over your shoulders. Humility is a virtue, but the “it’s not quite ready yet, let me work on it some more” type of procrastination is not. Your work will never be perfect, and you’ll never be completely happy with it - let others help you.
- It helps us survive. Our type of organisation has a considerable turn-over of personnel, which is a good thing: people move on, new people arrive, things change. While that keeps us on top of developments and allows us to adapt to changes, it has downsides too: many can be alievated by extensive (openly available) documentation: if you want to be helpful, let others stand on your shoulders. Especially in our area of operation (the internet, as it used to be called), everyone seems to feel the need to start from scratch: new sites are planned and created all the time, then die after a rather short time, leaving the web littered with carcasses. We aim higher: not eternally stable urls (though that would be good), but a structure, a system, a community and a spirit that will outlast us.
- It is who we are. We’re philosophers and philosophers, when they do X, automatically also do the philosophy of X (that’s part of why there is no end to it). As philosophers, we believe in the power of arguments (cf. our mission statement) and thus in the goodness of being shown wrong. To learn, and to correct our mistakes, we need to have a clear (i.e. explicitly written down) conception of what we are doing, openly accessible to all (including our future selves).
Putting OA into practice
Here is how we try to put some flesh on these bones.
- Ongoing publication process. Everything we do on the portal is published immediately, even if this means that some published pages are unfinished and imperfect. They will always be. We welcome everyone's help in improving the portal, correcting mistakes, fixing links, pointing out inconsistencies,
- Google.docs instead of emails. Working together as a team, we try not to have our own private plans, documents, work-logs, notebooks, but share all this through a rather extensive universe of google.doc documents accessible to all team members. We use work-logs not just for logging work hours, but to tell others what we are going to do next and what after that.
- Coordinate outside communication, We try to coordinate and harmonise our outside communication through an extensive contact log. We try to be transparent about our communication, sharing with team members the emails we are writing in the name of the portal and the association, let them participate in our network of contacts and extend ours in tandem with theirs.
- Salary transparency. All our internal documents, including contracts, salaries, accounts etc., are available to all team members. Team members are welcome to be association members as well, sharing in the legal, financial and administrative responsibility for the portal.
The portal as open source
What we are trying to do - provide the general public with an exhaustive, detailled and authoritative way of accessing the entire world of academic philosophy - is certainly unique in Switzerland, but neither does exist, to our knowledge, in any other country on earth.
If there were similar initiatives elsewhere, we would be happy and eager to help in any possible way: not just by providing access to the technical infrastructure, but sharing our internal documents, workflow structure and everything else as well.