I really enjoyed listening to this moving at the speed of creativity podcast 373. Wesley reflected on Steven Johnson’s Where Good Ideas Come From. He talked in depth about creativity and collaboration. It is definitely worth a listen. I want to reflect more in depth on one specific issue he raised. Wesley said websites should to stop charging for information and articles online. He says information gate keeping just limits how what people can learn. It keeps the public uninformed, and this practice should be reformed.
I should warn you that I don’t have a definitive stance on this issue because I agree that it is a good idea, but I don’t think it is practical. As a student, I have almost unlimited access to information because K-State pays for subscriptions to all these online resources. I can find nearly anything I want with a few simple searches. I think this is essential for students and would be very beneficial to all people. Limiting the information someone has access to limits that person’s potential to make a difference in the world. This is why I do agree that people shouldn’t have to pay for information on the internet.
The problem with this is we live in a capitalist country and a largely capitalist world. We agree that whomever generates information owns that information. Before the internet, any research or articles had to be published in a book, journal or magazine, which people had to buy. So why should the internet be any different? Researchers, authors, editors and the like need a way to earn a living. A good alternative to this would simply be to add advertising. However, many readers and publishers alike feel that real, legitimate sites shouldn’t have this advertising because it feels cheap. So, while I would like public access to all information, I think the way the world views information and ownership will have to change before any major changes can be made.
Here is a video Steven Johnson made that summarizes some of his ideas.