The world’s greatest disruptive act of Open Access Publishing.
The Dutch are pragmatists. If there’s a more practical, hard-nosed, outcome-oriented culture that is steeped in business and trade, it might be the Chinese. But the Dutch are (in so many ways) giants in the history of trade and commerce.
So it may be surprising that what is arguably history’s most disruptive act of creating a ‘commons of knowledge’ that opened up global trade to competition and fair-play came from a Dutchman, Jan Huygens van Linschoten.
van Linschoten managed in a single act of sharing – in his case the pilfered Portuguese portolans and charts – to open the world of maritime commerce up to free and open competition, stimulating an era of growth and innovation in technology – shipbuilding, sailing, logistics, cartography and navigation – and in business – insurance, investment tools, financial instruments – that changed civilization for ever.
In 1596 or thereabouts, van Linschoten published what had for over a century and a half, the state secrets of Portugal – the maritime cartography of the Indies – West and East.