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Sep 21 2006 - 05:38 PM
A service economy?
I really enjoyed today's seminar. I think there is something compelling about the entire project, and I believe it is worth our continued attention. One thing that struck me–while reading the list of the recent class of MacArthur Fellows after the talk–was the work of fiction writer George Saunders. Saunder's work often offers descriptions of “a near future where capitalism has run amok. Consumption and the service economy rule the earth.â€? Well... This is just a thought experiment, but after hearing the talk today, I wondered how the open access project might relate (if one had the imagination of Saunders) to the idea of a service economy. One of the compelling reasons to open access to information (so an argument may go) is so that parents can act as informed consumers of education. As informed consumers, they can demand different services of teachers. Thus, teachers become–they already are public servants aren't they?–subject to the demands of the market. And–so the argument for access may go–researchers are supposed to help in this process. If we continue this line of thought–and it may be utterly misguided–one can see what might happen when college students (the ultimate consumers of higher education) are offered a la carte menus. If they can receive all of their research free online, will they choose to spend money on the library or on faculty research (will they be compelled to)? Or, will they decide to spend their money on the gym, or on the rock wall, or on increased face time with teachers. If students make these demands, then will journals continue to exist? Further, as consumers, will parents favor research–even if it is free–or will they decide that Phi Delta Kappan, Chronicle of Higher Education, Ed Week and the coverage that they already get in the newspaper–even though they pay for it–is still a better option? If we aim for quality of access to information about education, why wouldn't we make these existing genres better by publishing work–summaries of our research, etc.–in them?
Posted in: Events|By: Jeff Frank|33397 Reads