The Russian National Library, St Petersburg. Image credit: Obuolys at the English language Wikipedia
Since the success of Information and Empire: Mechanisms of Communication in Russia 1600-1850 edited by Simon Franklin and Katherine Bowers, and our growing number of titles that focus on Russia-related topics, we have become interested in the growing use of OPB’s titles and Open Access resources more generally in Russia. Here’s what we found.
When it comes to internet usage, Russia keeps itself to itself. This is partly enforced by state censorship, the Russian government increasingly exploiting the Internet’s surveillance potential. New legislation in 2016, one of the so-called ‘Yarovaya Laws’, decreed internet providers must now record the content of users’ online communications, alongside the customary date, time and duration. These Data Retention Laws mean Western websites like LinkedIn are blocked – supposedly to protect the data of Russian citizens, but more likely to sweep it under the Kremlin’s thumb. Russian society is also fairly isolated from the West, due to the legacy of barriers both linguistic and ideological, and this is reflected in the popular rejection of Facebook in favour of a Russian equivalent. This Cyrillic doppelganger is called ‘VKontakte’ and is easily the most popular website in the country. So popular in fact, that one anthropologist described it as the only internet resource used by the ‘silent majority’ of Russians, with purely local friendship groups making it feel ‘as if the internet did not extend more than 40km in any direction’.
At Open Book Publishers, openness is at the heart of everything we do (the clue is in the name!) Recently, we’ve been working on how to present more data about our books on our website, in a more visually attractive way. We want to know as much as we can about how many times our books have been downloaded and accessed, and where in the world they’re being read – and we want you to be able to see this information too. It’s all part of our mission to make the case for Open Access by showing the reach a book can have when it’s made freely available online for everyone to read. Continue reading
Open education means providing greater access to knowledge and learning. It also means significant institutional change, something that takes time and concerted effort to be successful.
The Open Textbook Network (OTN) is a community of higher education leaders dedicated to advancing open education best practices on their college campuses. Together, we build and share resources, data and expertise focused on open textbooks.
In the U.S., OTN membership now includes 15% of higher education. In the UK, the OTN has recently started working with the UK Open Textbooks project on their research into the viability of importing open academic textbooks into UK colleges and universities.
“We produced translations for Tolerance in a small group, made up of the 2nd year students in my college. We were given the French copies of two texts, produced our own translations, and then all met with our tutor to … Continue reading
It has been exciting to see how much interest our Tolerance volume has provoked since its publication. We initially took up the project in order to show support for our colleagues in France and to help the anthology of searing Enlightenment texts they’d put together on tolerance, equality, and free speech reach an Anglophone audience. We were upset by the Charlie Hebdo assassinations, and because we all wanted to be able to do something, however small, we rushed to translate a text that spoke to the concerns of our present moment. We had no idea that our work would come to impact so many people.
Open Technology: The Future of Open Access
This is the third and final part of a three-part series of blogs to celebrate the publication of our hundredth book. To read the first part, click here. To read the second part, click here.
One of the major drivers behind the development of Open Access is technology. The internet allows us to make our books available online, and the ready availability of cheap mobile devices means that people all over the world can access them. Technological development in the internet age is partly fuelled by open source projects and phenomena such as crowdsourcing, which harness the willingness of skilled people to work together and share the fruits of their labour for others to develop further. Continue reading