Fifty shades of open


  • Jeffrey Pomerantz EDUCAUSE
  • Robin Peek Simmons College



open access, open source, free software, open data, open science, open government, open culture, free culture


Open source. Open access. Open society. Open knowledge. Open government. Even open food. The word “open” has been applied to a wide variety of words to create new terms, some of which make sense, and some not so much. This essay disambiguates the many meanings of the word “open” as it is used in a wide range of contexts.

Author Biographies

Jeffrey Pomerantz, EDUCAUSE

Jeffrey Pomerantz is a Senior Research Analyst with the EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research. He is the author of the MIT Press book Metadata, and instructor of a popular MOOC on the same subject. He is an Associate Editor of the Open Access Directory. He has been an associate professor in the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a developer of proprietary software, and an independent evaluator.

Robin Peek, Simmons College

Robin Peek was an early and long-time supporter of open access, and the Editor and co-founder of the Open Access Directory. She was a professor in the Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science for more than 20 years, and taught one of the first-ever courses on open access. She was also a columnist on publishing for 15 years at Information Today. Robin retired at the end of the 2013-14 academic year, though she remained an active scholar. She died on 21 August 2015.




How to Cite

Pomerantz, J., & Peek, R. (2016). Fifty shades of open. First Monday, 21(5).