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This day’s portion

The Truth Is Paywalled But The Lies Are Free

Link: The Truth Is Paywalled But The Lies Are Free by Nathan J. Robinson. Published 02 Aug 2020.

The headline reiterates something you probably know, but the implication is no less horrific: You can publish — through ostensibly respectable channels — fascist or plain neo-Nazi propaganda and get huge numbers, largely because the publisher doesn’t use a paywall. It’s like the relatively recent past has been obliterated, that very obvious truths need to be articulated all over again.

A problem beyond cost, though, is convenience. I find that even when I am doing research through databases and my university library, it is often an absolute mess: the sites are clunky and constantly demanding login credentials. The amount of time wasted in figuring out how to obtain a piece of research material is a massive cost on top of the actual pricing.

Libraries could offer an antidote, be part of the solution. But Robinson identifies a major problem: Libraries have awful UX, and don’t value UX. Everyone else does and will invest billions in making finding information easy, even pleasurable. When I started my current job this posed an existential risk to libraries — now it’s become even more serious.