What is there not to like about “openness”? The premise seems to have virtue, particularly in the space of critique of government. From totalitarianism through to oligarchies, it can be argued that it is opacity and secrecy that have contributed to abuses of power for many centuries. In other spaces, the notion has caught hold. In several scientific fields, it appears that a lack of openness can lead to misconduct and in some cases a slowness that may cost lives. In the humanities, we might say that its absence fosters insularity. In computer software production, open-source paradigms have led to remarkable developments such as the Linux kernel and allowed us to see the inner machinations of the code that is responsible for many aspects of our daily lives. There is much to be said for open practice.

And yet, there are some troubling aspects of “openness” that often go unexamined...

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