Open Work Definition

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Why Are We Using The Term Open Work?

People produce and collaborate on all different types of work within academia and beyond. Different types of works can be released and developed among communities of practice in different ways. To treat each type of Open Work as its own silo hinders the ability for these works to be used interchangeably among each other. We use the term Open Work to talk about a larger theory of practice in which Works of all types are developed, distributed, and collaborated upon.

Open Work Definition Version 0.1

An Open Work delineates the meaning of “Open” with respect to work products and projects that are released into the public domain or under a license recognized by an entity such as, but not limited to, the Open Source Initiative (OSI), the Free Software Foundation GNU, the Creative Commons (CC) or the Open Knowledge Foundation (OKF) with the intent of promoting a robust community of collaboration around the work itself and other work that it may interoperate with. 

This essential meaning of “Open” aligns with that in the Open Source Definition and is synonymous with “free” or “libre” as in the Free Software Definition and Definition of Free Cultural Works.

The term “Work” will be used to denote the item or piece of knowledge being transferred.

The term license refers to the legal conditions under which the work is provided.

The term public domain denotes the absence of copyright and similar restrictions, whether by default or waiver of all such conditions.

The goal of the defining “Open Work” is to provide a meta, or unifying, term across the uses of Open Science, Open Research, Open Scholarship and other terms that attempt to encompass (yet end up excluding some of) the practices and spirit of the following

A secondary goal is to reduce the use (and dilution) of “Open Source” (a term and definition specific to software) in application to domains to which it doesn’t apply, or it’s use as a verb; such as in “I’d like to “Open Source” this.” no matter what the “this” in question happens to be.

The Roots of “Open Work”

The intellectual “Family Tree” of the term Open Work includes examples from technology, science, and the arts.



Literature and the Arts

Open Work Definition 0.1 was written by Stephen Jacobs, Director, Open@RIT with contributions from Michael Nolan, Associate Director, Open@RIT, and Karsten Wade, Principal Community Architect, Red Hat, Inc.

Please share your comments with us at (email address TBD, linked to the open work domain?) 

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.