Edit: The text of the article in question is actually online: Open Access.
Comes an interesting article by Rick Anderson titled Open Access in the Real World. I don’t think that several of his points are on target, though.
“While choices made by authors, publishers, and librarians do have an effect on the information marketplace, their choices and actions have little or no effect on the deeper economic reality in which that marketplace exists. That reality is determined in fundamental ways by two simple facts over which the human players in the information economy have little control, and a productive and intelligent conversation must proceed from a recognition of these facts.”
Those facts are: “There is no such thing as free information” and “Information is not a public good.”
To say that authors, publishers, and librarians have little or no effect on the economic reality of the publication marketplace is a bit misleading. It strikes me that much the same thought must have crossed the members of the recording industry bigwigs when the digital music revolution began. In that case, it was even further down the information pipeline..it was the consumer that was creating the change.
While he does point out an often ignored point in his discussion of “free information,” again, I think we’ve missed something. Of course there are costs associated with the creation of information. There are also benefits of said creation. His discussion of the trade-offs of this binary ignores the ability for information to do dual duty. It isn’t impossible for information to both create a return (economic or no) to the author, and also to be available for free to the public.
As well, the costs for archival and such can be spread to such a degree that it is almost literally no cost, and systems to do such are getting better and better every day. Things like the Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe system from Stanford and the Freenet project provide systems where archival of information is nearly invisible, and the cost is incredibly small. The cost for a system that is capable of running the Lockss system would be less than $250 right now.