Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ The NODE Launches a New Online Publication

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Apr 21, 1999

Posted to WWWDEV 21 April 1999

It is perhaps fitting that the Node's first act on launching a fee-for-subscription site is to break this list server's 'three-lines-and-a-url' rule for commercial advertising.

I am disappointed that the Node has chosen this route to fund its services, and regret that their content will now be blocked from many students and low-income earners.

And I have to ask whether the Node will now be paying its authors and contributors - if so, I want back pay for helping (in a small way) the Node achieve its current valuable status.

What we are seeing here is the development of a new business model on the web. It's like the 'No Significant Difference' phenomenon site, which recently went into for-profit mode, blocking its useful information in order to promote sales of the book.

Sites employing this model first collect the willing contributions, advice and good will of volunteers from around the world. They then turn around and sell this freely submitted information back to the people who donated to it in the first place.

Now the Node, of course, is repackaging its information in the form of articles. Even so, as its credits acknowledge ("Special thanks to all those who facilitated this project through their generosity with time, tours and interviews.") the information was freely given. One wonders whether the contributors would have been so forthcoming were they to know the Node would be selling their comments and ideas.

It's a disappointing turn. I used to think the Node was one of the good ones. Silly me.

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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