On 14th January the Christian Democratic Union and its Union partner in the German government the Christian Social Union of Bavaria (CDU/CSU) proposed setting up an Enquete Commission to examine the implications of the Internet on society. Amongst other things, the Commission will be asked to look at initiatives for providing free access to publicly-funded research. Could this announcement be connected with the e-petition in support of Open Access (OA) launched in Germany last November? Does it herald a change of heart about OA on the part of the German government?
Certainly government funded research should be available to the funders?
And we might go further. What government does (plans, actions, decisions etc.) should be openly available to those for whom that government is working, which - last time I checked - were the people being "governed".
Obama managed to leverage the openness meme with a generic promise of "change" which many interpreted as change in the direction of more openness and more participation of the governed in the business of governing. What a pity he did not come through with those kinds of changes.
Perhaps the right wing has it right after all - that government needs to be reduced to the minimum. But unless participation in decision making at a grass roots level can be stimulated, I fear that this is a pointless exercise. Someone or something will spring up to fill the void. We must participate - all or at least most of us - in governance discussions and decision making, otherwise no change is possible. Just making government smaller will not do the trick. The vital underpinning is an active and vociferous constituency.