Information Architecture – Web Theory
Chapter 6 has some real juicy bits for me to chomp on. Free vs pay is an ongoing debate especially when it comes to the internet and the information that we want. Before going to add my two digital cents, I want to discuss first the concept of the library as stated in my text reading.
I came across on my Google Reader an entry about free online comics. The specific site which I am referring to is http://www.htmlComics.com. This site claims to be a “library” while online and have the same rights of those traditional brick and mortar buildings. Read over their claim:
The Definition of a Library
A public library, or any library (i.e. … schools, institutions, social organizations, individual communities, …) is created with the intention of providing free public access to reading material, with the altruistic goal of educational enlightenment and the better welfare of the people. Many libraries are in operation with a specialization of a specific subject or focus (i.e. … law libraries, science libraries, …).
We have created a public resource for reading material, hence a “Library”. It contains comic books, about 110,000 total, and is provided to the public without requiring any cost (tangible value and potentially profit) and also without requiring any membership (a membership database could be interpreted as having intrinsic value relative to today’s marketing approaches, where membership lists are frequently bought and sold). Our library makes use of the internet as a medium of delivery for its reading material. The end result can be reviewed at the website www.htmlComics.com. Download of any of the material is not possible through the website presentation. Code is written to prevent such. To prevent download by users whom are savvy enough to have understanding of how to retrieve files from the cache of web pages, the structure is such that each comic overwrites the cache of the previous comic, hence; making copying as difficult as is reasonably possible. Because download and save of the books is not reasonably possible, the delivery of the material does NOT constitute distribution.
Okay, now my turn. I am all for reading regardless of the material. I love the library now more than ever because of our economic woes and the lack of space at home to buy reading material, the public library is the perfect option for me as well as for many people. While there is no cost to get a library card, in most cases, the materials that is bought or the computers that are available to patrons, the staff to provide customer service, the maintenance to keep the library in working, and so forth has to have some type of revenue to afford these services. Through our county, the millage paid by the homeowners goes to pay for everything I’ve mentioned. Going to the comic books/graphic novels that library lends out does cost money but nothing to check out, so to speak. While this site has taken steps to prevent any illegal downloads, it’s not a library in a traditional sense. The text discuss the web has having features that resemble a library. Is this a good thing?
Information is free but sometimes there is still a cost to access the data. When we received our news from the TV before cable, there was no cost to watch TV. However, this is still cost involved in the way of buying a TV set, buying rabbit ears or TV antennae, and the electricity to run the whole show. What we think is free still has a hidden cost when we move the curtains.
Now, we have cable which we pay. We have internet access which we have to pay. Things that we desire for free wind up still being at a cost to all of us on some level. This begs the question, at what point will information become un-affordable? We think of water from a tap and where okay because it does cost anything except the time it takes to open a faucet and fill the glass. Now, we can have a bottled water as another option which is at a higher cost. Yet, we still pay for it. When times become tough like they are now, things that was once paid, there will be those who will find ways to circumvent the cost. Hackers which is briefly discussed in Chapter 6:
It is more accurate to characterize some but not all hackers as vanguard class of the Web and the Internet that are trying to protect the relatively free flow of information exchange via the Internet.
I disagree with this statement because when I’m downloading something off Bit Torrent it is because I don’t want to pay for it. I don’t see myself as some type of vanguard for the web and internet. There is no way I can justify my actions as just. Then again, others may not have the same problem with their personal ethics.