Open knowledge challenges academia

“The standing of an expert requires visibility on the net,” says Jessica Parland-von Essen.

Open knowledge challenges academia

In the past, knowledge was stored away in the databases of libraries, universities and the government. Today, an increasing amount of knowledge and information is freely available on the Internet.

”Open data and open knowledge already impact politics, culture and the economy,” states Dr Jessica Parland-von Essen, who works as a researcher and head of the Brages pressarkiv newspaper archive. She also lectures at the University of Helsinki on the effects of digitisation on research in the humanities.

Many learn about open data through data journalism, which is currently one of the hot topics in the media world.

”As the different media compete for market share, they must react quickly. The academic world, for its part, has been slow to take action,” estimates Parland-von Essen.

Open access journals, which are freely available on the Internet, are one form of open data present in the academic community. In fact, many journals now insist that scholars, in connection with their articles, also publish their raw data for free perusal by their peers.

Universities in many countries have opened their instruction to the public at large. Parland-von Essen applauds the idea of University of Helsinki teachers making their lecture materials available to the public.

”A practical tool for sharing your material in accordance with the terms and conditions defined by you are, for example, Creative Commons licences,” recommends Parland-von Essen.

Open data and the ever-expanding amount of data have also changed the status of researchers as experts.

As Parland-von Essen points out, today it is no longer self-evident that researchers, information specialists or journalists have the best competence to interpret phenomena or that they even possess the best knowledge or information.

In order to maintain their authority as experts, scholars need to keep abreast of developments.

“The standing of an expert requires visibility on the net,” concludes Parland-von Essen, who has also given lectures on blogging to researchers.

Jessica Parland-von Essen will discuss open knowledge (in Swedish) with Professor Henrik Meinander, Media Specialist Micke Hindsberg, Communications Consultant Carl-Gustav Lindén and Rector Thomas Wilhelmsson at Think Corner on 14 February from 16.30 to 18.30 » »

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TUHAT research database: Jessica Parland-von Essen »»

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Text: Katja Bargum
Photo: Veikko Somerpuro
Translation: Language Services/Language Centre (University of Helsinki)
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