Kevin Kelly had an interesting post on The Technium last week about these sorts of issues (http://www.kk.org/thetechnium/archives/2008/01/better_than_fre.php), and his conclusion is exactly along the lines of Karen's post.
His assumptions are:
When copies are super abundant, they become worthless.
When copies are super abundant, stuff which can't be copied becomes scarce and valuable.
So he concludes:
When copies are free, you need to sell things which can not be copied.
The things which cannot be copied are services -- he lists eight "generatives" that have value. These are immediacy, personalization, interpretation, authenticity, accessibility, embodiment, patronage, and findability. Trust is also mentioned as a intangible asset with significant value.
I find that this is a compelling argument, and it seems to be in line with things I hear coming out of OCLC Research, at least, and from the folks at Open Library, too. It will take time for an organization with as much inertia as OCLC has to change its modus operandi, but I think it will come. However, unlike others, I tend to be an optimist in the morning and a cynic by nightfall, so we'll see...
Danielle Cunniff Plumer, Coordinator
Texas Heritage Digitization Initiative
Texas State Library and Archives Commission
512.463.5852 (phone) / 512.936.2306 (fax)
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From: Code for Libraries [mailto:[log in to unmask]]On Behalf Of
Sent: Thursday, February 07, 2008 7:04 AM
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Subject: Re: [CODE4LIB] Records for Open Library
> Maybe Roy will answer that one -- but I doubt its that difficult to guess.
> OCLC's primary value is its bibliographic database and the information
> about its member's holdings. Nearly all of it's services are built around
> this. If they gave that information up to the Open Library, it would most
> certainly undermine their ILL, Cataloging and Grid Services initiatives.
> However, if a handful of members in relation to their membership
> participate in the program -- its no skin off their noses.
You know, I realize that's the going-in thinking, and OCLC has shared that
with me. I fully understand the need for OCLC to protect its services. But I
remember with a previous job that people (even some very important people)
thought our product was our data, but it really wasn't: it was the services
we wrapped around the data, including maintenance, delivery, affiliated
products, etc. It's true that the data had to be good, but that goodness
didn't come with a core dump of one-time static data. Keeping our data
closed ultimately harmed us, perhaps perniciously, and I wish I had done a
better job of championing a different path. I didn't have the skills or
vocabulary and to this day I regret that.
Karen G. "Been there, done that, got the teeshirt" Schneider
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