Open Content Alliance – 2006 agenda

Having posted my early thoughts about the Open Content Alliance I thought you might be interested in the progress since late October. It was clear shortly after the launch that supporters of this vision were going to have to move quickly from shared enthusiasm to the difficult operational problems that such a massive effort will have to solve. It’s only movement towards robust operations that will convince the necessary cohort of institutions that this is a long-term shared vision to which they can contribute and from which they will benefit. I’m pleased to say that the OCA has structured a work agenda for 2006 and announced it on their site. Along with others, I was happy to be consulted and contribute to the development of these next steps.

The OCA is taking a community approach, structuring its efforts to be consistent with the way collaboration happens on the Web. Success in a grand venture like this is far from assured, but this first set of steps is very heartening. The necessary working groups have been chartered, chairs have been appointed and a variety of tasks will now get addressed through these vehicles.

A few things in these steps that please me:

- keeping the OCA a project of the Internet Archive sidesteps the kinks that long, premature conversations about governance would engender

- declaring a collection focus – Americana, specifically North Americana – provides an essential filter for quick progress and priority setting

- stating a target of October, 2006 to unveil a significant digital collection allows all the contributors to focus their efforts

You’ll see that RLG is taking a significant role—RLG program officers are providing leadership and support throughout. (nods of thanks to fellow RLG bloggers) This is an exciting opportunity as part of the OCA to work with all institutions who have something to contribute.

It’s very early days, however, and while the working groups have been announced, they haven’t yet been populated. Nor have the chairs coordinated with one another on dependencies and timelines. (Nor have we had a chance to discuss more accurate and congenial naming of these groups.) But all this ought to happen soon and enable those institutions that have been watching for OCA progress to make an informed decision about their own participation.

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About Jim Michalko

Jim coordinates the OCLC Research office in San Mateo, CA, focuses on relationships with research libraries and work that renovates the library value proposition in the current information environment.

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