Why Don't I Release DIY U As A Free Download?

Anya Kamenetz, DIYU, Apr 30, 2010
Commentary by Stephen Downes

The question had to be asked, I guess: why wasn't the Edupunk book released as a free download? Author Anya Kamenetz responds, "I am a professional writer and journalist, not an academic or a performer, and it's important to me therefore that I be paid specifically for my writing and reporting." Well, leaving aside the fact that this response is a tautology, I would respond there are other ways to be paid. Kamenetz anticipates the objection. Writing a book, she says, is better than writing in a magazine where "the advertisers have a whisper of influence" and better than speaking engagements where "I am collecting revenue directly from organizations that have particular agendas."

But this requires us to somehow swallow the idea of the purity of the book, which, frankly, is a load of hogwash. It's beyond credibility to thing that publishers don't have influence over what's publish. There's a lot I like about Kamenetz's book (which I'm reading now, having bought it before the unexpected free copy arrived (so now I have two)) but it also represents the commodification of the idea of edupunk. That's what publishers do. They capture ideas, and own them, later reframing them to suit their own purpose.

As a final refutation of her answer: does she feel her views on edupunk are somehow less tainted by commercial interests than, say, mine? Or Jim Groom's? Because she got paid to write about edupunk and we didn't? Of course not. Groom and I are just as much writers and journalists as she is (well, at least I am; I'll let Groom speak for himself). Being published isn't what makes you a journalist. It's what makes you a paid journalism, and in a world where everyone is a journalist, you are not being paid for your journalism. Which kind of begs the question, then, doesn't it: why, actually, did Kamenetz get paid? (Hint)
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