Knowledge is power. Elitists in the ruling class have been fighting a battle to control the free movement of information among the the masses for many thousands of years. Disruptive technologies like writing, printing and large scale literacy began to erode the control of knowledge that ushered in the existence of democratic societies and republics. Advances were slow until the Internet opened the exchange of knowledge on steroids. We now live in an era when the fastest growing segment of knowledge and knowledge work is open, with free access for all.
Still leading the cutting edge of Open Source is the Computer Science community. A consortium of academia and corporate entities have recently agreed to share basic research with the masses. Not only is this disruptive to the old, outdated proprietary technology model that dominates the tech industry today, it is shaking the very foundations of the old guard power structure of academia:
If there is one area where the Web and Internet publishing is truly fulfilling its promise, it has to be the free and open availability of scholarly research from all over the world, to anyone who cares to study it. Today’s academic does not just publish or perish, but does so on the Web first. This has made science and scholarship not only more democratic — no journal subscriptions or university library access required to participate — but faster and better.
And many of the most prominent scientific and engineering societies are doing everything in their power to put a stop to it. They want to get paid first. (Matt Blaze)
In the greater realm of basic research, Computer Science is the tip of the iceberg. It does continue to provide cutting edge models that often apply well in other disciplines. If applied to other sciences, open research could provide explosive advances in areas like physics, biotech and manufacturing. I believe this is the natural course of evolutions for all researchers if they are left to their own devices. The old guard and political class are likely to run abundant interference. Fortunately, the masses out number them.