The society has reduced its principal observations into one common-stock and laid them up in public registers to be nakedly transmitted to the next generation of men, and so from them to their successors. And as their purpose was to heap up a mixed mass of experiments, without digesting them into any perfect model, so to this end, they confined themselves to no order of subjects; and whatever they have recorded, they have done it, not as complete schemes of opinions, but as bare, unfinished histories.What a fantastic metaphor for the open pursuit of science -- a mixed mass of experiments, unfinished work, heaped up into a common place to be nakedly transmitted from one generation to the next!
Compare Sprat's description to the list of open bugs in Firefox's bookmarks component, as reported by the Bugzilla database:
Why doesn't everyone write software this way? People are starting to ask that question of companies that are much more opaque:
Many customers have asked us about having a better way to enter IE bugs. It is asked "Why don't you have Bugzilla like Firefox or other groups do?" We haven't always had a good answer except it is something that the IE team has never done before. After much discussion on the team, we've decided that people are right and that we should have a public way for people to give us feedback or make product suggestions.Well, Microsoft has come part way, at least. They do have a bug reporting site, and if you jump through a number of hoops, you can register for an account and see their bug list. But it took me a while to figure out, and their bugs aren't visible to non-registered users, so it's not nearly as open and transparent as Mozilla is with their site.
It's taken more than 300 years since Sprat to get to this point. How much farther do we have to go? How does our culture become so accustomed to openness that even the Leviathans have to answer to us?