Access, schmaccess: libraries in the Age of Ubiquity

One of the big changes is not value being added by owning the server, its by the people adding content to the server.

The Internet did not kill print, TV killed it ……. in 1940. The Internet will save us from television. More time is spent on the Internet now, than the total amount of media consumption in 1940.

14 to 55 billion pages indexed by Google in 2 years. There is no keeping up with the growth. 

Web culture understands that its out there somewhere for free. It doesn’t care about legal and the only thing stopping people from getting it is the time taken to find it. What is being sold online is not access, its convenience.

1985 born,  its normal, ordinary and natural. 1965 its exciting, new, revolutionary. Before 1965 it against the natural order.

Older people are using it because its the only way of communicating with their grandchildren. Younger users are using the Internet in a completely different way – finding a document is an exercise in probability – they search for words that they will appear on the site they are looking for.

Memetics – memes can not be created on purpose, they have to grow organically. There is a lot out there and no one predicted them. egs Ryan Gosling and Cats 2011. Some memes are changing the world and they are global. A meme has a vector and a host, it is decoded into a host mind and then spread further.

Media is meant to be remixed – not a view held by intellectual property. Doesn’t stop it from being a problematic part of our society. SOPA was a bad attempt at trying to solve these problems.

When you download a copy of something from the web, you are taking a rubbing. You haven’t stolen it, remove it, its still there.

When you share a pattern, you don’t know what is going to happen to it. You can’t control it after you post. If you don’t want anything to happen to it, don’t post it.

Unauthorised duplication is not theft, it is just what it is. Sharing is not piracy. Its like saying eavesdropping is equivalent to armed robbery.

Once you purchased a container, you could do anything with it. Then late in 20thC, licences were brought in to bypass copyright. You can’t steal it if the person still has it after you take a copy.

Some information is valuable. There is a key economic fact – that the Internet does not break the law of supply & demand. If supply is high but demand is low, the price is low and vice versa.  The installation of a paywall, will drive your legitimate customers away. 

To make money, make things available at a decent price, with ease. Grow a big audience by giving things away then sell experiences, such as concerts, clothing etc. eg. Cory Doctorow has rights to ebooks without DRM – but even more money is being made on sales of hard copies. Jonathan Coulton – selling CDs, T-shirts and concert tickets, but his music is free.

Another business model is advertising. Its not new – its been with us on newspapers, television, radio etc. The cost of a newspaper does not pay for its production. Advertising created the free media. Is it such a bad thing to have ad-sponsored e-books?

Ebooks are artificially priced at the moment. Some publishers are testing out lower pricing to engage the impulse buyer and making a lot of money as a result. The bubble will burst soon and it things will change quickly.

Open Educational Resource movement is also going to change things. They are proud of the work they are doing at university, so they are pushing to release it publicly.

In this world, where content is released for free, how do artists and musicians make money? They don’t now. Sites like Kickstarter make the impossible possible. You may be paying for something virtual, but you are getting something physical in return.

Doing it right on the web means doing it DRM free.

 Bits have no value.

So, what’s left for libraries? Our secret weapon is sharing. Unless there is a bottomless pile of it. Sharing implies scarcity, which doesn’t apply to media. Lending collections such as telescopes etc. are a niche that libraries can tap into. Access to equipment and objects that they can’t get any other way.

How can we do things that have value for our community, when the things that we have done, no longer have value. It means being local. In the 21st century, we are taking our community to the world. We also need to produce content that others won’t and bring that to the world. This content will not exist unless we create it.

We need to give experiences that they can’t get anywhere else.  AADL has had a film-making workshop and an annual Lego creation event. They help attendees achieve and then get images on it on the web – not taking away the rights at any stage.

The library is where you spend your social capital usually. However, now when we run these types of events, it is somewhere you can earn social capital.

What would the library look alike when we spend half as much on our experiences, as we do on our collections. Things we can buy is going to decrease.

Had a tagging competition which ended up contributing 200,000 tags over the summer. they made it an open-ended game. Got asked, does the summer reading game end? So as it did, they launched two new continual games, which continue the game and the tagging process. In these games, there is no purpose to the earning of points, as they can’t spend them – but still they come and earn points. They use the catalogue and the web to solve these.

The cloud is not to be trusted. The library can be trusted and we can host, where the cloud disappears. We can be the place.

Libraries: we share stuff – stuff you want, you need, you made and you can stuff here.

Secret mission: fight for the user. Tell them what they can do with the media they download – they should be aware of their rights – fair use etc.