Notes in the Margin

On the intersection of web apps, digital content and social media

MIT Open Access: Apparently Academic Content Also Wants to Be Free

Increasingly, it seems that academic content is being made available to the public for free. Here again MIT is leading the way – following its open courseware initiative with open access to journal articles.

With academic journals charging libraries increasingly high subscription rates, Massachusetts Institute of Technology passed a resolution to make it easier for faculty authors to share and distribute their work for free. MIT said faculty members will grant open access to all journal articles through DSpace, an open-source digital repository created by MIT and Hewlett Packard. (Full article here on WSJ)

It raises the question: if all the content of a university is made available for free, where is the value for which they will generate revenue in the future? There are three things that come to mind:

  1. Clearly, the experience of being on a campus and interacting with professors is a key measure – MIT is assuming that the immersive experience of an enrolled student is worth something like $20oK.
  2. Few of us have the discipline and focus to effectively manage our own time and energies to pursue a course of study with the rigor and depth of an enrolled student. In short, MIT assumes that we require exogenous motivators (and they’re probably right 99% of the time).
  3. The degree itself may be worth the money. Though maybe this is becoming less important – I’ve worked with enough geniuses without a college degree (and non-geniuses with a degree) to know not to judge based on a diploma.
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Written by tstaley

March 25, 2009 at 10:11 pm

Posted in Content Publishing

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