Suber: Leader Of A Leaderless Revolution

Richard Poynder | Information Today, Inc | July 1, 2011

What is remarkable about the open access (OA) movement is that despite having no formal structure, no official organization, and no appointed leader, it has (in the teeth of opposition from incumbent publishers) triggered a radical transformation in a publishing system that had changed little in 350 years. Most notably, it has demonstrated that it is no longer rational, or even necessary, for subscription paywalls to be built between researchers and research.

While many have played important roles in the movement, no one has been as influential, or as effective, as philosopher, jurist, and one-time stand-up comic Peter Suber, a man now viewed as the de facto leader of this leaderless revolution.

Among Suber’s unique contributions is that he played midwife at the birth of the movement. Specifically, he was present at the seminal 2001 Budapest Open Access Initiative meeting (convened by the Soros Foundation) in Hungary, where OA and its agenda were first defined. Suber also drafted the associated ( Budapest) Manifesto, doing so in a way that successfully fused the different agendas articulated at Budapest into a coherent and convincing whole, while serving to inspire and stir OA advocates.