The power of observation: making research visible, accessible, and usable for the Asian digital economy

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27 Nov 2015

Research in digital form is now so abundant, in so many forms, on such a comprehensive array of topics, that it is somewhat surprising to find that while the Internet has done so much to make knowledge accessible, we still face numerous problems if we want to find, evaluate, access, understand and - most importantly - use, much of this information. Too much useful knowledge is locked up in expensive, subscription-only journals; too much data is never made public; too much material is lost through ‘link rot’, where links are not updated and lead users nowhere. The result is that the great potential of the Internet to provide universal access to information is not yet being realized. This essay considers the benefits and possibilities of an online ‘observatory’ focusing on digital economy and policy issues in Asia. We draw upon our experience developing an open-access, policy-oriented repository in Australia, (APO) which aims to make relevant research visible, accessible, and usable for policy-makers, journalists, advisors, activists, and advocates. Our work suggests that with some new ways of gathering and accessing information, initiatives such as observatories can improve the current fragmentation of knowledge across the Internet in ways that will benefit researchers, policy makers, public interest advocates, and society as a whole