One of many posts on my Readiness Assessment. As a reminder of the ground rules, this is a solo assessment, so while I’m allowed to think out loud on my blog, I can’t ask for or get (intellectual) help. Cookies and emotional support are, however, welcome.
I owe a huge debt to other researchers who have used (and often pioneered) aspects of RTR in their own work. In many cases, the adoption of radical transparency patterns came as a result of participatory research, as when Biella Coleman (2005) and James Howison (2008) became contributors Debian and BibDesk while they were studying those respective projects. Others became respected community members of a project long before entering academia to study it, as with Mako Hill (2012) and Wikipedia and Martin Krafft (2010) and Debian. This prior experience shaped their personal research practices, as when Krafft exposed his data so others could reanalyze and validate it. Cormac Lawler (2011) actually created an open project, Wikiversity, in order to study it. Both Lawler and Mark Elliott (2007) engaged in action research by developing their work-in-progress on a wiki and inviting readers to edit it directly. They also wrote some public reflections on their process, but not nearly as extensively as Lilia Efimova, who liveblogged her reflexive auto-ethnography… on blogging (Efimova, 2009). Stian Haklev (2010) and Jason Priem (2010) advocate for open access and publicly release the tools they use for their own research… on open access.
I really ought to write these people. I keep saying that. I know a few, I’ve met a few, I’ve written a few, and I’m eternally behind on all the people I would like to hash ideas like this out with. Anyway.
Two things should be pointed out about the list above: first, this is a recent and emerging trend. Every single citation in the paragraph above is of that person’s doctoral dissertation or a work in progress towards it. Second, each of these dissertations looks at or works with a group that has always been an open community, which sometimes makes it difficult to discern which philosophies and patterns of transparency came about from the implementation of RTR in order to study the activity and which ones had already existed beforehand as part of the activity itself. There is no common terminology (the term RTR is my invention) and exactly what RTR is hasn’t been articulated much.
Radically transparent communities (open communities) can and have been studied without RTR, and RTR can be done on groups that aren’t open communities. I will write the rest of my RAT talking about the latter in order to keep things cleaner; when we talk about radical transparency, we know we’re talking about the nature of the research being done, not necessarily the nature of the group under study.
Okay. I really, really need to take a crack at defining what the bloody hell radical transparency is.