I finally got around to reading Conventional Scholarship as “Legacy System” and Open Access as “Middleware” at Academic Evolution.
I think it is a very useful analogy for understanding why some scholars are slow to embrace open access.
You see, academia’s knowledge economy is so symbiotically connected to for-profit (toll-access) publishing at this point in time that academics, ostensibly devoted to open inquiry and the pursuit of knowledge for social good, can be profoundly closed-minded about Open Access publishing or any method of distribution if it varies from the tried and true, even if those methods far exceed the reach and impact of traditional print publishing.
And more on the potential consequences for academic publishing of not changing:
If academic publishing stays within its established genres and persists in the gateway model of peer review, it can continue to pretend to fixed and certain authority, as though knowledge is a commodity (as indeed, it is within the academic reward system). This is understandable given tradition, but it is inconsistent with the open and ongoing review of knowledge that is the new paradigm of communication and knowledge production. Ultimately, traditional academic publishing will prove to be inferior knowledge of diminishing significance (largely due to its own self silencing and its voluntary withdrawal from persistent social knowledge systems).
Read the whole thing to get to the parts about how current Open Access models are “middleware”, and how academic scholarship and publishing will evolve.