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Our Mission

Published onOct 15, 2019
Our Mission

Knowledge belongs to everyone.

But the design of our knowledge ecosystem today limits the spread and production of knowledge.

It serves neither researchers nor society.

Our system is holding knowledge captive, and it’s created an emergency.

Disinformation abounds. Research is stymied. Progress is blocked.

Open is not enough.

Open Access, Open Research, and Open Source are important. But they don’t solve the underlying problem. If our community doesn’t control the platforms and the data that we’re working with, we basically don’t control anything.

Knowledge institutions need to control knowledge infrastructure.

Our missions are aligned. We serve researchers and society. We understand the challenges and the opportunities. We must reclaim the territory that we have ceded to commercial publishers and commercial technology providers.

But our efforts need to be competitive.

Too many attempts to create competitive institution-owned infrastructure alternatives have fallen short. Most knowledge institutions are designed for research and education, not building and maintaining competitive technology.

These failures have had a lasting impact. Promising projects born at institutions have had few viable funding options outside of for-profit, venture-capital-funded models, and as a result they have been easy targets for acquisition.

Knowledge institutions have been shouldering the risk and cost of R&D without seeing the benefits.

The Knowledge Futures Group is forging a new path.

We are a non-profit technology organization (think Wikimedia or Mozilla) run by a consortium of knowledge institutions, devoted to developing and maintaining competitive, sustainable, institution-controlled knowledge infrastructure.

Our Mission

We build sustainable knowledge infrastructure that serves society and researchers by ensuring that knowledge is a public good.

Our Core Values

  • Accessibility. We believe that competitive technologies must be simple and inexpensive to deploy and use. Our projects focus on lowering the time, technical, and cost barriers to entry – and on including everyone in the knowledge ecosystem.

  • Bottom-up process. We believe that giving researchers and institutions more input and control over the tools they use is the key to durable change. Our projects deploy community-driven development practices to solve real problems.

  • Sustainability. We believe that technologies cannot perpetually rely on short-lived grants to compete effectively with proprietary alternatives. We look for projects with viable sustainability models and we help develop them.

A New Approach to Infrastructure

We look for projects that move us far beyond the status quo, not simply create more open versions of the current system. We focus on four core activities:

  1. Product and tool development. We build low-cost, easy-to-use, open-source technologies that solve real problems for researchers, institutions, and society.

  2. Standards, protocols, and best practices. We participate in the development of standards, technical and social protocols, and best practices that align with our goals and further our mission.

  3. Advocacy. We advocate for the adoption of infrastructure and best practices that further this mission of making sure knowledge belongs to everyone.

  4. Data collection and maintenance. We identify, collect, and distribute data in ways that help researchers, knowledge institutions, and funders assess impact effectively and fairly.

Funding & Governance

Knowledge Futures is run by a consortium of knowledge institutions who contribute funding and other resources and steer the organization. Operations are augmented by generous infrastructure grants from individuals and foundations.

We treat projects like experiments. New projects are designed to reach sustainability in a finite time, with measurable key results determined by our leadership and members. This focus on sustainability means that member dues and infrastructure grants fund core operations and new projects, rather than keeping an ever-growing list of legacy work alive.

Active Projects

  • PubPub: turnkey, easy-to-use software for the entire publishing lifecycle

  • The Underlay Project: protocol and network for sharing and querying machine-readable knowledge

Our Projects in R&D

  • Review Maps: framework for exposing and sharing human- and machine-readable review histories

  • Badger: framework and platform for creating, sharing and searching article badges on top of existing publishing infrastructures

Support us as we:

  • refine our vision;

  • recruit consortium members;

  • seek infrastructure funding;

  • define and build our operational models; and

  • find new projects.

Come join us! And build better futures.

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