The internet has opened up many different potential channels through which to distribute content. One of the channels which grew widely is that of freely available content; with websites such as Youtube, Tumblr and WordPress making it possible for opinion, news and academic content to become widely available at no cost to the content creator or to the recipient of the content.
The video above discusses the problems with publishing in scientific research and academia, keeping information which is supposed to be available for collaboration and education behind a heavy paywall. This model of practice seems to be detrimental to the process of scientific advancement as it could deny access to key papers which could have led to major advances due to the fact that not all papers could be afforded by all departments. This also harms institutes trying to teach in developing countries as it reduces their access to information on a financial standpoint, which can harm growth due to the effect on labour force skills.
This problem of audience being affected by high pricing on content can cause problems for firms selling content as well, with newspaper websites using paywalls being less visited, “In most cases, it’s limiting the ability of these newspapers to build communities or get attention, and actively pushing people away” (Masnick, 2016). The issue is that there is so much content available for free, making it a brave move for establishments to put up a paywall, particularly if they cannot show themselves to have higher quality content.
The problem is firms need to retain sufficient income to continue to produce their content, which is where I would argue systems such as Crowdfund and Patreon are more favourable norms than paywalls. Both systems exist to help make projects possible. This is what I hope the future looks like in the world of art, innovation and science as it enables projects to be funded by those who can afford to pay, while those who can’t but still can benefit and produce great benefit to others from the works can access the content. This system of voluntary payment through Patreon has been working on the internet propping up educational projects such as Crash Course (see below video) for several years (Patreon).
(Crash Course, 2015)
(CGP Grey, 2014)
Overall I would argue, much like with the case of Net Neutrality (as shown in the video above), that the internet thrives from being a space with great and equal accessibility to content. Therefore it is better when content is kept free, with those who can and wish to supporting content they like through methods such as Patreon in order to lead to greater potential for collaboration and group efforts.
CGP Grey, 2014. Internet Citizens: Defend Net Neutrality, Available from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wtt2aSV8wdw – Last Accessed 07/05/2017
Crash Course, 2015. Crash Course Introduction (Patreon), Available From https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tC3zgzi5zTw – Last Accessed 07/05/2017
Masnick, 2016. Lots Of Newspapers Discovering That Paywalls Don’t Work, Available From https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20160815/09353135247/lots-newspapers-discovering-that-paywalls-dont-work.shtml – Last Accessed 07/05/2017
Piled Higher and Deeper (PHD Comics), 2012. Open Access Explained!, Available From https://youtu.be/L5rVH1KGBCY?t=2m29s – Last Accessed 07/05/2017