Blog Archives

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A Director Writes: The First Ten Years of OBP

When Alessandra and Rupert invited me to join them in establishing Open Publishers as a Community Interest Company, I was delighted to accept. Having been a senior manager in the British Treasury I had experience of economic and financial matters, and that experience had first been brought to bear in my 2004 book, The Reading Nation in the Romantic Period, of which a free to read online summary was published later, as The Political Economy of Reading. Continue reading

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Ten Years of OBP: An Interview with Alessandra Tosi and Rupert Gatti (Part Two)

The next ten years: “We need to show this can be different.”

While Gatti and Tosi are fiercely proud of what they have built, they believe the future of OBP lies in enabling the growth of other Open Access publishers. Gatti sees this as the way to achieve significant and lasting impact: “We did think we would grow bigger initially, that we’d want to be publishing a hundred books a year or something, but the Radical Open Access Collective, ScholarLed,[1] this is a much more powerful expansion if you can facilitate that rather than us getting bigger.” Continue reading

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Ten Years of OBP: An Interview with Alessandra Tosi and Rupert Gatti (Part One)

Ten years ago today Open Book Publishers was born. Non-profit, scholar-led and now the leading UK Open Access publisher in the Humanities and Social Sciences, OBP began as a small-scale experiment, a passion project for co-directors Alessandra Tosi and Rupert Gatti. They were frustrated with the existing academic publishing landscape and convinced that Open Access could offer something different. Continue reading

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Human and Machine Consciousness – a systematic approach

Chimpanzee brain in a jar. By Gaetan Lee. Tilt corrected by Kaldari. 2007. CC 2.0.

Consciousness is extremely important to us. What would life be worth without the smells, colours and sounds that fill our waking conscious experience? Coma patients who are unlikely to regain consciousness are allowed to die. Fictional unconscious zombies are shot with impunity.

Within the Christian tradition the conscious soul is distinct from the physical body. After death conscious souls continue to have experiences in hell or heaven. This tradition was reworked by Descartes into a distinction between thinking substance (the conscious soul) and extended substance (the physical body). Modern scientists and philosophers face an apparently insurmountable distinction between their everyday colourful conscious experiences and an invisible physical world of superstrings and wave-particles.
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Just Managing? and the articulation of Austerity

The Independent has recently reported that in autumn this year, the UN Human Rights Investigator Professor Philip Alston will be researching the impact of Tory austerity measures in Britain.[1] The need for such an investigation will come as no surprise to readers of Mark O’Brien and Paul Kyprianou’s hard-hitting study of austerity Britain, Just Managing?.[2] This startling and eminently readable study foregrounds the plight of low-earning families who have been disproportionately affected by the policy agenda that has been pursued over the last three governments. The Coalition of 2010-2015, and the majority and minority Conservative governments that followed, have delivered the exact reverse of what they promised with regards to austerity, originally advertised as impacting the rich more heavily than the poorest in society.[3] In fact, income inequality, and its attendant problems of inflation and unequal distributions of education and healthcare, have increased on an unprecedented scale in recent years.[4] Continue reading

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Soso Tham and the Wisdom of Language

Tales of Darkness and Light: Soso Tham’s The Old Days of the Khasis is one of the least accessed titles in the Open Book online catalogue; there is not even a Wikipedia entry for Soso Tham (1873-1940), despite his being the most prolific Khasi-language poet ever to be set into writing. Such obscurity is not only the neglect of a sensitive North-Indian poet, who can hold his own in comparison with Keats, Wordsworth and Clare in the English canon; it is also emblematic of the suppression of eastern cultural practices by imperial western forces, as well as the forgetfulness of modern people of their ancient past. Soso Tham’s poetry seeks to reacquaint the Khasi people with their cultural and linguistic heritage, and assert pride in that inheritance against the voracious forces of colonial rule (under Britain until 1947) and modern suspicion of indigenous traditions. Janet Hujon’s (re)discovery of this distinctive and moving poet, is as much a personal communion between Khasi poets – Hujon is a Cambridge-based member of the Khasi community– as it is a communion across generations and estranged cultural discourses: Western and Eastern, urban and rural, modern and ancient. Continue reading

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Knowledge is for Sharing: Support Us!

We’re a not-for-profit Open Access academic press, and we’re dedicated to making outstanding books that are free for everybody to read. We don’t charge authors to publish with us. We don’t put our content behind paywalls. If you believe in open access publishing, now you can support us easily, with a couple of clicks!

We’ve set up a Patreon account, which allows individuals to pledge a monthly donation of their choosing to Open Book Publishers. It can be as much as you want (think big!) or as little as the cost of a cup of coffee. Your donation will go towards the publication of more open access books, growing the store of open access knowledge available to the world.

If you’re already convinced, you can go straight to Patreon and sign up here! But if you’d like to know more: Continue reading

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Open Access in Russia – a point of connection?

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’.[1]

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Enabling lifelong learning through open education

Broadly speaking, open education (OE) is the widening of access to high quality educational resources in order to promote lifelong learning and greater participation in higher learning and training. One of the driving principles of OE is that lifelong learning is a human right.

Thus, at its heart, OE is an educational philosophy about how knowledge should be created, shared, and accessed, and it is this philosophy that drives OE principles, policies, processes, and practices. These ideas are further explained in the research-based book I published with OBP, Open Education: International Perspectives in Higher Education. Continue reading

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Open Access Around the World: Tracking Our Books Using Online Statistics

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