Week 1 post- paywalls and bloggers and bears, oh my

One of the major issues with open online learning, and social media, are the questions of privacy. In chapter 6 of NET SMART, Rheingold aserts: “The danger of enclosure is greater than that of shifting cultural expression and slowing the advance of knowledge, important as those threats might be.” (p. 245)

What do you like/dislike/wonder about in terms of Rheingold’s concept of “technological enclosure”? In your own professional practice and life, when do you “enclose” and when do you “open”? Please respond in a comment here. Also, feel free to respond to others’ posts too.

Some form of enclosure is crucial to sustaining the livelihood of creators of knowledge and content. Jarrod Lanier, an early proponent of free access in the digital domain, has recently recanted the position saying that if we are becoming an information economy and all information is free, we have destroyed the economy. As a composer, I have lost a lot of my business to music libraries, which are paid services, but which have begun to pay very little to composers in order to compete with use of pirated material. Lanier is a musician in addition to being a digital visionary, and he and his friends no longer can make any significant income from music.

I personally have some music available online for listening and some music that is not available. I do not personally download except with pay, and made a point in my psych of music class last year to have students consider the impact of even small scale piracy on the artists, who should have the right to pay their rent and buy groceries. I tend also to be generous with my music when people contact me needing something for a film or website and do not have budget to pay, but I want to be asked and to maintain control.

I do sympathize with Rheingold’s point about paywalls for scholarly research, and I also face those daily. What I would like to see would be more reasonable fees, because a single article can cost $25 to $70, and this is beyond my means. I generally work through libraries to request these, which in essence means that a collective resource provides access. Sometimes, I have had to go to the HI State library to access different databases or wait for the UH library to respond, but these paid services provide a revenue stream that allows those who produced or published the knowledge to go on working. That said, peer review journals do not pay authors, and I am not sure the revenue publishers retain is equitable for their efforts in publishing and making the information available.


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