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In honor of Open Access Week, I wanted to write a quick blog to support the growing global movement promoting the free and immediate sharing of learning, data, and scholarly research. Imagine how much faster we could advance if more people from more places could share and apply their own experiences, innovations, discoveries, cures, failures, lessons, and best practices with each other. There are already so many limitations when it comes to access—the digital divide being one of the greatest—but with the growing popularity and availability of mobile phones worldwide, more people can connect than ever before. Who knows where the next greatest idea could come from in this global 'collaboratory?' Don’t limit potential inventors, last mile entrepreneurs, hybrid innovators, students, teachers, health workers, scientists, and builders of solutions. Problems worldwide may be more easily solved with greater numbers of people working with better information.
Whenever you can, make your discoveries, your data, and your dilemmas open. Share them with others. Use appropriate licensing to credit the discoverers and builders and expanders of ideas and information and keep pushing the limits.
We created the IntraHealth OPEN Council, a coalition of leaders in global health and technology, to work in this way. We hope to build on each others’ work and empower the next generation of tech-savvy health workers with better tools, systems, support, and information while benefitting from health workers’ real-world, end-user expertise and feedback. We also focus on open source-based solutions whenever possible because we believe they work better in our field. Here’s a link to a blog on why we think Global Health and Open Source Is Important. For us, OPEN is a movement that includes open data, open software, open devices and hardware, open design, open planning, and open learning tools with the goals of sharing, learning, discovering, building local capacity, and advancing people’s health and well-being. Last month, at the Clinton Global Initiative, we made a commitment to doing work to advance these issues. Click here to learn more about OPEN and the OPEN Council.
Certainly, when it comes to global health, more is better—more minds, more ideas, more data, more evaluation, more research, and more solutions. There is a great series of videos on the Open Access site like this one parodying some familiar commercials and explaining more about what open access means. But open access is a very serious issue. Read up, consider your options, share, and spread the word.
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