In response to the comments on Professor Lessig's post, let me just note that I think online petitions that result in a fax sent to the legislator are probably far more effective than email or web-based versions, so I would vote for providing that option. I'm sure it's more expensive, but then you would get better results. The public domain and commons is just one more excellent service that libraries enrich, and yet one more service we as a society will lose, if we don't start valuing our libraries and librarians more.
In a follow-up post, the Commons-blog seconds the motion for ALA to start "an organized campaign to help people target elected officials and ask them to support library services." We just have to get better at this. Now.
Marcia K. asks if I know whether anybody will be blogging next week's joint ALA-CLA conference in Toronto. I don't know of any librarian bloggers attending who will blog it - do you?
We really need to fix this, but then we need to get Wi-Fi at library conferences in a big way. I hope Internet Librarian can manage it in November because it would provide a great model.
Phil Windly responds to Dave Winer's post noting that Infoworld is now the first publisher to include ads in its RSS feed.
With all due respect to Phil, I have to side with Dave on this one, although I will withhold judgement until I see what they look like. I didn't notice any today, but I've been experiencing some funkiness with the feeds in my aggregator and now I'm not sure my subscription to InfoWorld is still working. While it would indeed be a shame for these publishers to take their RSS ball and go home, they're not technically providing the content for free. They're providing the link to the content for free, and that's a big difference.
Here's my take on this: if you are providing me with the full text of the article in my aggregator, then I'm willing to trade you my eyeballs for an ad. However, if you're just sending me the headline with a one- or two-sentence description, then that's the ad. Your intent is to get me to go to your site to read the full article, at which point I will see the ad (probably lots of ads), and the transaction is complete - I clicked onto your page and became a number you can sell to your advertisers and in exchange you let me view the content.
Obviously InfoWorld sees this differently:
I don't get that last argument - reading their headlines in my aggregator and not clicking through cuts into ad revenues more than me not reading their headlines and not clicking through? I didn't read InfoWorld until I was able to add it to my aggregator, so how did that change cut into their ad revenues? I be confused.
And while I'm willing to acknowledge that InfoWorld is the first BigPub to include ads in its RSS feed, they are most definitely NOT the first to include ads period. I occasionally saw an unobtrusive ad in Glenn Fleischman's feed, and I didn't unsubscribe. Later, Chris Pirillo experimented with ads... too often in the feed, after every post IIRC. I was about to unsubscribe when thankfully they stopped appearing. And when I was subscribed to Mark Paschal's Stapler feed for MetaFilter, it would sometimes include the text ad that appears on the home page. Again, it was unobtrusive enough that I didn't unsubscribe.
Having noted all of this, I'll also note that I subscribe to the MoreStuff4Less Blog and get some great deals through it. It's invaluable, and they've sent a lot of my business to various online retailers. While their posts aren't strictly ads, they are well done and I actually look forward to viewing them.
So InfoWorld and others who may follow suit, the lesson is to tread lightly. Like email, if your advertising becomes too intrusive, garish, distracting, or irrelevant, I'll unsubscribe and then you'll have lost the real ad - the link to your site. I'm not saying it can't be done, but you have to do it right. Consider the trade-off carefully, because I can live without your site in my aggregator.
Update: There's lots of interesting cross-blog talk going on regarding this issue. Here's a sample:
More importantly, Chad Dickerson and Matt McAlister are contributing to the debate. Why is this such a big deal? Because they both work for InfoWorld. I'm trying to remember the last time I saw this kind of open, honest debate between a publisher and its audience. Even if I end up disagreeing with what InfoWorld is doing, I admire their ability and efforts to clarify their position, openly discuss it, solicit feedback, and evidence a willingness to evolve their model. I'm trying to imagine this happening at some other level, say in the music industry, book publishers, etc., and I can't think of an instance that is there yet, other than possibly the software industry.
So much respect to InfoWorld, even if I still think you should give me more content in exchange for an ad. ;-)
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Spreading the meme:
Why You Should Fall to Your Knees and Worship a Librarian