UOSM2008: Summarising Topic 5

Topic 5 focused on the advantages and disadvantages to a content producer of making their materials freely available online. I chose to focus on the issue of paywalls and the UK newspaper industry, you can read my blog post in full here. I concluded that it is important to keep informative educational news portals open and free, enabling all to access the content provided. In addition, I believe that some UK news providers will maintain free provision of news articles as there are inherent benefits of doing so. (see Preston, Peter, ‘Paywalls or not?’, The Observer, published 2nd March 2014,http://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/mar/02/times-guardian-website-users-paywall)

Having read and engaged with other members of UOSM2008, it has extended my thoughts on this topic as many of you have explored the implications and repercussions of open access to educational materials vs high paywalls.

Firstly, Yee Ping Pang highlights the economic implications of open access and encourages the reader to view the Internet as a ‘market place’ where goods and services should be exchanged (Colberg, 2010). This in turn led me to think about the ways in which this could manifest itself. Having encountered ‘absolute paywalls’ when attempting to access an academic journal, I have often felt frustrated and have not made a purchase. I, therefore, believe and feel that metering or content restriction forms of paywalls may be an improved method of collecting a payment for the service or product provided. This is because I believe we are fast becoming subscription based consumers.

However, a discussion of open access’ ability to reduce inequality in education with Laura Jane Higgins with reference to Sam Eslinger‘s post from Topic 4 has reconfirmed that the provision and availability of informative content online can only have positive impacts. With internet access comes the ability to educate yourself.

To conclude, I understand the economical implications of providing content for free online, however, the internet has developed at an alarming pace and simultaneously our expectations have changed and developed in accordance. We are living in a culture where we expect online content to be free and accessible to all, and as a result it is incredibly difficult to change people’s perceptions and preparedness to pay for content that has previously been accessible for free. This is why I believe that subscription payments are the way forward: A consumer wants to pay a fixed low monthly rate and have access to a VAST plethora of online content, this enables them to ‘make the most of their money’.  Spotify, Netflix and the many varying newspaper and magazine publications that operate such systems are testament to this. 




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