Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Free content is the future

The publishers of Education Week apparently do not get it. As I wrote back in February in the post “Free ideas & Pedagogy,” we live in a tranformed informational environment where the value of information is increasingly defined by the breadth of people’s access to it rather than imposed access limits. Traditional media outlets think according to this formula:

Good content + Limited Access = High Value for content (profits)

That formula is increasingly inapplicable in our networked world, especially with the advance of web 2.0. The new formula is:

Good content + Broad/Ubiquitous Access = High Value for content

This formula belies different economic models, but there ARE still viable ones out there– and other new ones yet to be invented. Just ask Google.

Someone sent me a link to a recent EdWeek article from May 10th, “Researchers Weigh Benefits of One Computer Per Lap.” Problem is, this content is locked behind a login– and the EdWeek publishers actually think someone like me is going to pay either:

  • $9.94 per month
  • $69.94 per year
  • $74.94 per year for the print version and online version

My answer? NO WAY. I am not going to pay anything to read content like this, because there is a universe of great FREE content relating to this topic (1:1 computing) and many other educational technology issues which is very high quality and 100% gratis!

The result for EdWeek and others who are still stuck in an analog/print/old-media mindset of idea distribution is that their ideas and their publication methods are rapidly becoming de-facto irrelevant. More and more folks like me will choose alternative edtech news sources, that at worst require a FREE online registration, like TechLearning and eSchoolNews.

Idea relevancy and value is increasingly defined by ACCESS. Lock your content behind a login, and people will go elsewhere. It’s the 21st century, and some of the old publishing models simply do not apply in our era of new media.



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6 responses to “Free content is the future”

  1. Tim Avatar

    One way to avoid paying for the online content is to find a copy of the paper version that your boss receives every week (and who, like EdWeek, has no clue about the real value of the web) and use the subscription code on her label. 🙂

    You’re right, however, that EdWeek is stuck in the same print world as too many other publications. The result is that their paper version is out of date almost as soon as the content is sent to the presses.

  2. JB Avatar

    It’s true that many sources tend to be stuck in the old paradigm of print+distrubute=pay, but if the issues of net neutrality are not settled by us (the users) then the distributers will have us paying for every little bit of information that we receive. This IS a reality that is much closer than many want to believe.

  3. Rachel Avatar

    And along those lines – maybe i diverge a little but it’s about the print based world. What does it take to drag some of our colleagues out of that world. U know of printing & shredding emails… Huh?? I sat in a Video Conferenced meeting watched the chairperson take handwritten minutes which were given to her secretary to type & posted (yes with a stamp) to all our schools – crazy.

  4. Wesley Fryer Avatar

    Good tip Tim– I did finally get a print copy of the article. It actually is very good. One of my favorite quotations from the article is:

    Some researchers and educators say the public tends to view laptop computers as a way in and of itself to boost teaching and learning. But the machines can’t simply be dropped into classrooms and work magic. The experts say districts employing such initiatives must train teachers on how best to use the computers in their classrooms. And students must learn how to amplify the academic applications of the computing devices– not just use them to pass electronic notes to each other or play video games.

    JB, you are right on net neutrality– I am a believer in end-to-end design as Larry Lessig described it in “The Future of Ideas,” but unfortunately that philosophy is counter-cultural for most folks.

    I agree Rachel, we need to bring the digital immigrant co-workers along. I think people need laptop computers themselves and sustained support with groups of peers, using the tools to not only become more productive but also to do transformative things with the technology– which would not have been possible otherwise. Only through these types of experiences and sustained conversations do I think we’ll get them to “come along.”

  5. Jamire Avatar

    very informative. 🙂