The advantages of offline access

Nov. 16, 2011
Benjamin Balder Bach

FAIR is working to provide a huge collection of Libre Knowledge, ie. knowledge that is shared freely and for free. Also known under terms such as Open Access, Open Content or Creative Commons.

But because Internet access is still problematic to give to schools with >1,000 students, we have opted for local area networks. We have the equipment (cables, switches) to provide this and to provide a reasonable server. And with the abundant availability of local data storage (hard drives), we are able to distribute vast amounts of information. We are truly standing on the shoulders of giants, as the information, we are spreading has been created by over a million people (e.g. >15 mio. accounts on Wikipedia).

No doubt that this information has a huge impact.

In the May 2011 issue of the SPARC Open Access newsletter, one of the big stars of Open Access, Peter Suber talks about the importance and obviousness of offline access to OA. The online part he calls OA and offline: OA'. He then goes on to outline 10 advantages and 10 disadvantages of OA'. The disadvantages are not very surprising (in his own words), but the advantages seem to both heavily outweigh the disadvantages and to really boost the case of offline access. Even in the rich and technologically developed world!

Let's play with some numbers.  By a common industry estimate, peer-reviewed scholarly journals publish 1.5 million new articles every year.  If we assume that the average article is the same size as the average BMC article, then a zipped version of those 1.5 million articles would only require 28 GB.  Amazon sells 32 GB thumb drives for about $50.

Read his full article » (it's free!)

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