One way to disseminate information about OA is via “social bookmarking”. As described by Ben Lund, Tagging and Bookmarking In Institutional Repositories, Nascent, March 13, 2006, “Social bookmarking is the process of saving your bookmarks (or links, or favourites, whichever term you prefer) on a website and making them available for others to see“. [See also: More on tagging eprints in OA repositories, posted by Peter Suber on March 14, 2006, and Social Bookmarking Tools (II): A Case Study – Connotea, Ben Lund, Tony Hammond, Martin Flack and Timo Hannay, D-Lib Magazine 2005(April); 11(4)].
As noted in the article by Lund, Hammond, Flack and Hannay, one can obtain data about the number of bookmarks in Connotea matching the tag “open access” by visiting http://www.connotea.org/tag/open%20access.
When I did this today (December 31, 2006), a total of 842 entries were tagged “open access”. Of these, I counted 738 that were posted in 2006, and 104 in 2005 (beginning on March 2, 2005).
Ben Lund also points out that Del.icio.us is perhaps the best known social bookmarking service. “Connotea is a similar service that is tailored specifically for use by scientists and other academics“. A search of Del.icio.us for bookmarks tagged “open_access” yielded a total of 1830 bookmarks. Topping the list was the Directory of open access journals, saved by 1781 people. Next was Peter Suber’s Open Access News, saved by 225 people. (Third on the list was another address for the DOAJ, http://www.doaj.org/home).
Perhaps such data may provide useful indicators of growing awareness about OA?
Added January 8, 2007:
Of course, social bookmarking itself increased markedly during the past two years. Preliminary evidence that the 7-fold increase (from 104 in 2005 to 738 in 2006) in the use of the “open access” tag in Connotea wasn’t simply a result of the increased popularity of social bookmarking has been published as a short “obervation” in Philica. See: Till, J. Tags Indicate That Open Access Is Flourishing. PHILICA.COM Observation number 34.