Worth of creative online work

“Where does this idea come from that any creative work available online should be free?” This question is asked by librarian Meredith Farkas (who has been called Queen of the Wikis) in a post with the title Value in the online world. When people say or write that they do not want to pay a writer for PDF downloads of their work on the grounds that it isn’t a printed book, what do they consider to be the value of the work — the paper, the ink, the weight? She writes: “A book’s value comes from the creative work of the writer, and that should have value no matter what format it’s in.”

She goes on to consider other online activities that have value. Academics and others argue that blog posts they write and their other online activities should be considered in tenure decisions, along with the formal journal article. Online conferences are another example: they require effort, organisation and money to put together just as is the case for physical conferences. Yet people do not value them in the same way: they don’t carve out their time for it as they would a physical conference (spending time on simultaneous other tasks) and they are more likely not to “turn up”. The article as a whole is thoughtful and sensible, as usual with this author; even if you are not a librarian, the piece has relevance for the thinking about the value of the online world, both our own activities on (in?) it and the way in which we think about other people’s creative efforts online.

(Meredith links to an article by Walt Crawford on the worth of creative work, which I also enjoyed reading, discovering a few familiar names in the process.)