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6 May 2009 / Julie

Publication FAIL: offer everything free online full text or go away.

This morning as i walked into my cubie, i grabbed the items filling my inbox and plopped them on the desk. After my computer woke up and i had written out the 3 things i want to accomplish today, i flipped through the items that were in my inbox.

paystub.
catalog from swag company.
approved time off slips (yes, my dept still uses paper for this even though MPOW offers an online way).
a page a day calendar page with a cute puppy on it.
and Information Today.

I filed and tossed everything and sat down to flip through Information Today. Immediately on page 11 i found an article about Twitter and it’s usage that i wanted to forward to my fellow twitter presenter, Amy Kearns, for possible inclusion in our next presentation.

I open up Firefox and go to the Info Today website and click through to the publication i was reading on my desk looking for the online version of the article to forward to Amy.

OH BUT WAIT!!!! IT’S NOT ONLINE!!! In fact, there is only TWO articles currently available online and in FREE FULL TEXT*. There is a note though, reassuring me that,  “[a]rticles in this issue of Information Today will be available later this month in a variety of formats — Preview, Full Text, Text+Graphics, and Page Image PDF — on a pay-per-view basis, courtesy of ITI’s InfoCentral.”

Except that they wont be. at least, not all of them. The articles or news blurbs i usually want to link to, share, or archive for future citations from this particular (and a lot of) publications are never available online (read: online and free).

Oh, but don’t worry. There are ways around this, albiet annoying and more time consuming than “open ff, click, cut and paste, open email, email link.” I will photocopy the article (i’d just rip the page out, but i’m only the second person on the office delivery route), and then put it in my pile of things to scan into pdf and ocr when i get home to my amazing scanner (some days i want to buy a second for work… i’d pdfify the thing straight from the zerox machine at work (you know, the one i’ll be using to make another dead-tree copy) but they DIDN’T TURN THAT FEATURE ON!!) and then email it to Amy.

I feel like this is a complaint i’ve had before. Oh wait, it is. Last September i had similar gripes about the RUSA 10th annual “Best Free Reference Websites” not being online at the very moment i needed it to be.

Is it me? Am i just expecting too much? HELL NO!

If there is a mention of something existing in the world (like a list of websites, or an article, for example), it needs to exist RIGHT THEN AND THERE online as well for people to link, share, comment, and do with it what they please. Locking your stuff down, or not having it online for whatever other reason, is complete horse hockey in this day and age. How do you expect me to interact with, share, and cite your stuff if i can’t get access to it in a format that is more maleable than this magazine i hold in my hands?

I don’t think i’m being unreasonable by asking that things exist in this format for free, it’s just good customer service. Especially in a world where MPOW thinks it’s an okay idea to cease subscription to the only professional database they ever gave us access to in the first place. *cough*Library Literature*cough*

So please, vendors, publishing people, and information creators and purveyors alike- please put your stuff online. please make it full text and available for free. Please get with the program and learn what happens when you open things up to the world. (See the Smithsonian’s own Michael Edson’s CIL2009 ppt on information commons, specifically slide #24 where he mentions that IBM turned a $100m investment into $500m just by opening things up to the world).

It’s not rocket science. things that are open to be shared are of more value to the world than things you lock down and shoo people away from. Get with it, or go away.

Update: MPOW’s copier is in kahootz with the publishers, apparently. It’s having issues seeing 11×14 and reducing it to an 8.5×11 page. gah!

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*Side note: the fact that there’s even such a phrase as “full text” bugs me. We shouldn’t have to denote that at all, everything should just BE that.

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