Open and Shut?: The OA interviews: Carlos Rossel, Publisher at the World Bank 2012-05-01


Use the link above to access the transcript of the interview. Background information on the World Bank, providing context, reads as follows: “When Jim Yong Kim takes office as the new president of the World Bank on 1st July, he will be the first development professional to head the Bank... The outgoing president of the Bank Robert Zoellick gave some insight into the Bank’s internal deliberations in a speech at Georgetown University in September 2010. Significantly, Zoellick acknowledged that pushing top-down economic solutions that were baked in the West on developing countries can no longer be viewed as adequate. In his speech — entitled ‘Democratising Development Economics’ — Zoellick pointed out that “modern portfolio theories” of economics have too often failed to deliver on their claims. The hubris behind such claims, he added, ‘turned to humility in the 2007 sub-prime crisis that led to the global economic crisis.’ The outcome of the Bank’s deliberations was the launch in 2010 of its Modernisation Agenda — a move intended to ensure that the organisation was ‘strategically focused, financially stronger, and more responsive, transparent, and accountable.’ The Modernisation Agenda has a number of important implications for the Bank. From the specific perspective of the OA movement, it has seen the formulation of an Open Development Agenda ... The first step was taken in April 2010, when the Bank announced its Open Data Initiative. This saw more than 7,000 development indicators — along with more than 60 other datasets — made freely available on its web site; and the amount of data available continues to grow. Three months later, in July 2010, the Bank launched its Access to Information Policy — with the aim of transforming the way in which it makes its data available to the public. As part of this initiative, 17,000 historical documents were released from the Bank’s archives. More recently — on April 10th this year — the Bank announced its plans to introduce an Open Access Policy. To come into effect the day the new president takes office, the OA policy will mandate that the Bank’s research outputs and knowledge products are deposited in a newly-created institutional repository called the Open Knowledge Repository (OKR), to be made freely accessible on the Internet... In addition, much of the Bank’s information will be released under the most liberal Creative Commons licence, allowing anyone to reuse it for their own purposes, even commercially. The Bank is the first major international organisation to take this step... But what is striking about the Bank's Modernisation Agenda from the perspective of the OA movement is that it puts OA in a much broader context than OA advocates are accustomed to think of it... Zoellick outlined this broader context last week, at the beginning of the 2012 World Bank-IMF Spring Meeting. Explaining that the Bank is committed to greater openness in a number of ways, he said, ‘We are continually striving to be more open about what we know (data, tools, and development knowledge), open about what we do (operations, projects, finances and commitments), and open in the way we work (Open Aid Partnership, knowledge platforms).’ As such, the Modernisation Agenda couples issues of transparency, accountability, and freedom of information, with concepts of open content, bottom-up collaborative working, crowdsourcing, and even open government. Consider, for instance, the six ‘knowledge platforms’ the Bank is creating. This includes the Open Development Technology Alliance, a knowledge platform on ICT that seeks to use external expertise and citizen feedback to improve public service delivery. In other words, the Bank is treating OA as more than just a tool to enable faster and more effective knowledge transfer and exchange, but a component part of a platform intended to create democratic, bottom-up, multi-pronged solutions to the many challenges confronting not just the developing world,  but mankind at large — e.g. climate change. The Modernisation Agenda is also an acknowledgement that both knowledge creation and economic power are beginning to shift, and to disperse. As Zoellick put it in 2010, ‘The flow of knowledge is no longer North to South, West to East, rich to poor.’ It is no longer a one-way process, but one that moves in both directions. The Bank also views it as a democratisation — for it implies a process in which knowledge and creativity move seamlessly between the developed world and the developing world, and also between organisations and individuals. And it does this in a more decentralised manner...”



08/16/2012, 06:08

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Date tagged:

05/01/2012, 05:53

Date published:

04/23/2012, 12:56