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information, design, architecture; information design + architecture

It isn’t really a business, is it?

Paul Kedrosky believes we live in an “open information economy”, which we know because he says so right here. But if he’s right, Google Scholar doesn’t have “sucktitude”: it’s the obvious outcome of an information economy.

If you can get past the slapstick of a man pushing hard on the pull door (Click “All n. versions” for a cheeky PDF freebie…), what’s most interesting is that most people don’t even see the stuff there as being of economic value. If they aren’t reading it, then how are they going to act on it? If you aren’t acting, how are you making value? A genderless internet entity notebulb goes in to a kind of fugue state on this theft, blaming the Ivy League Library System, which is the roundaboutest name for publishers I’ve yet heard, and it’s such a long and torturous attack, and it’s so amazingly wrong, because why would anything think about charging for this stuff? That makes so little sense that scholars are reduced to toadying, insular Old Boys (Oxbridge, not Chan-wook), passing their precious secrets through their Ivory Tunnel Network under JSTOR’s subscription walls.

There’s a grain of truth in that (it’s a lot like where all that Just Sharing malarky would seem to end up), but it’s not really everything. Instead, the whole publishing industry is making it really obvious that it’s not only with the advent of digital products that sharing became better than owning, and it’s not, as according to Mary Harrington according to Anna Jay, everything on the internet is the opposite of print.

Most blog posts aren’t product themselves, but press releases for public speaking, or conference attendances, or address books, or even just more syndicated content, but most journal articles aren’t much more than variables to pour in to the dark algebra of other people’s attention.

So can we please stop calling it an information economy if no one can find a way to package information like a product?

(The post that made me think all this in the first place came via Mark Dahl.)

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Filed under: Information use, scholarly communication, Uncategorized