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It's the cost of copy.

Information storage

  • websites
  • books

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 26th, 2007 at 01:06:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And cost of access. Public libraries in the UK are full of crap. And access to university libraries is strictly controlled, and often costs money.

Web access - if you can afford it - is patchy. Arxiv.org is open. Phys Rev, Nature and the rest charge a subscription.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Jan 26th, 2007 at 02:10:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I can tell you nobody uses journals any longer for physics/math research, because of the arXiv.org, except when an old source is required. Nowadays, the only reason to publish in a journal is to pad one's CV. Those who want their work to be widely available use the web.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 26th, 2007 at 02:26:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was only using physics as an example. There are journals that I'd love to read regularly - Leonardo, Computer Music Journal, some of the art photography journals - but I don't, because they're  

  1. Not available locally
  2. Too damn expensive
3. Both.

And Phys Rev and the rest still matter to journalists, if maybe not so much to scientists, because the content is easier to filter through if you're looking for a story. Arxiv.org is a sprawling free for all in comparison. You might find a story in there, if you're lucky. But it'll probably take you half a day of sifting through abstracts.

One problem with limited public access to information is that often you don't know that you're interested in a publication or book until you fall over it by accident.

Google may be a kludge, but at least you can search for things easily and have a decent chance of finding something relevant.

Not so with paper, where it's not only expensive, it's also inaccessible in the more practical sense of being invisible until you discover it. And your chances of discovering it depend on where you live and how rich you are.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Jan 26th, 2007 at 07:44:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Search engines suck noise. They suck because they return same results, the most popular results and not the most informative results. The quality and marginal cost of information available online is low: conversely, the search costs of specificity are high.

We come to judge the reliability, or integrity, of information by how many different publishers repeat the same news.

Over time though even this metric becomes unstable.

The upside of www distribution, besides low reproduction cost, is that many publications maintain  searchable archives. These are not cached by search engines. For the price of registration (0), one can retrieve the digital copy of an article for a fraction of it's original cost -- $4 or $6 is about market rate -- bundled in the annual subscription price valued which may be 1000x more.

That seems a small price to pay for specificity and convenience.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Fri Jan 26th, 2007 at 11:03:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
funny, i just learned that in umbertide (italia), a smallish market town half an hour's drive away, has free library broadband and free printing in colour.


'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Jan 26th, 2007 at 08:53:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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