Aligning Clashing Values

2 minute read

× This article was imported from this blog's previous content management system (WordPress), and may have errors in formatting and functionality. If you find these errors are a significant barrier to understanding the article, please let me know.

This started out as a comment to a posting by Chris Coppola, president and co-founder of rSmart Group. The comment got longer and threaded with yesterday's posting about the nature of BioMed Central, so I moved it to this posting on DLTJ. For those in the library community who are not familiar with rSmart, it provides commercial support for the Sakai collaboration and learning environment and the Kuali administrative systems suite. rSmart is somewhat equivalent to Equinox Software and LibLime in the library automation arena.

Aligning Clashing Values Under Open Source

Chris brings up a good point that isn't addressed in my earlier postings. The summation of his post is:

we should be careful not to over generalize. There are clashing values between some businesses and the education community. Blackboard might even be the poster child for values that clash. But there are businesses out there that operate with the same collegial cooperation, and share the values of the education community. Indeed some are part of the education community.

He's right, and I would propose that what makes rSmart (and Equinox and LibLime and other similar companies) different is a commitment to open source principles. The values of the business and the values of the academic institution are more closely aligned when the outcome is a better piece of open source software for the business and the academic institution. As rSmart thrives, so does the underlying open source platforms -- and here is the key -- whether or not consumers of that underlying platform are direct customers of the commercial support entities.

Aligning Clashing Values Under Open Access

And just because the world is not the black-and-white place that could be inferred from my previous postings, entities like BioMed Central and PLoS are aligned to a degree with the (emerging?) academic values of open access. Part of the "product" that each is selling is the concept of open access, which takes the form of advocacy to members of the academic community and lobbying to political entities. As the BioMed Central and PLoS thrive, so too one presumes does the concept of open access to journal articles. To the extent that members of the academic community find merit in the efforts of the activities of the businesses, everyone is happy. It would seem that the Yale University libraries performed that calculation and found the equation with BioMed Central lacking.

The text was modified to update a link from to on January 20th, 2011.