if everything on the internet has to be free, why isn’t my healthcare, too?
hi. I’m alison. I’m a first-year LIS student, and this post was written for my “Introduction to Librarianship” class. It’s not specifically about a particular job, but rather about the future of library jobs, and really of jobs in the US in general. I welcome your comments, dystopian theories, flames, or company with me on this path to create an economy based on something legitimate. thanks.
just lemme get this one thing off my chest. i’ve been trying not to write about it, but it keeps coming up in the context of wikipedia, or open source software, or blogging. it’s a huge issue in many aspects of our economy these days, but i feel like people aren’t addressing the question head-on:
how can i get paid for my profession if there are people out there who are willing to do the work for free?
obviously this is being hotly debated by journalists, these days. and publishers. and record companies, and..librarian-dudes, we are next.
for our reference class, we’ve been asked to make a pathfinder, a list of resources about one topic, to aid basic or advanced researchers. people do this all day long on blogs and facebook. i feel like my life is one big pathfinder project; finding resources, keeping track of them, distributing them to people i meet who might find them useful.
obviously, i like the idea of getting paid to do this work to which i am so deeply inclined. but presumably there will be a point where the bean-counters say “don’t the kids just use google for this?”.
when i worked at the archives, i essentially earned the cost of my wages by selling book publishers and authors the rights to use photographs in our collections. but a couple years ago the british museum decided they didn’t want to pay the british-alison, and put all their images up, full-resolution, for FREE, on their website (for non-profit users – whereas we charged 15 dollars).
so, i know people love great photographs of amazing art and artifacts but how is british-alison paying for groceries, these days? I know that everyone wants everything free from the internets, but i don’t know how they expect these resources (archival storage, enormous server space, site maintenance) to exist without paying. I don’t think we can rely on the content of the internet being perpetually created by someone who’s just fucking off at their corporate office job. that’s not an economic or a cultural model that is sustainable.
at some point, i think we (in the USA in particular) need to face up to the fact that we’ve been paying artificially low prices for entertainment (and food, too!) in this country. and we need to make a decision: free stuff or employed neighbors. unemployment (and under-employment) hurts our whole economy, right? that’s why things suck right now, right? cuz people aren’t buying the consumer crap that seems to be the “foundation” of the US economy?
soooo..it seems to me that either we have lots of free apps and free music and free tv, and most people are employed as the guy who sells you the iphone at best buy.
we create an economic system that values what the rest of the world values about the USA – our creative, hilarious, trashy, tasteless, brilliant, iconoclastic culture.
maybe we have to pay for some cool stuff. but maybe we also have health insurance.
and i ask: what future occupation do you wanna have?
ps: there’s a TON more to discuss about this, in terms of open source software, community supported agriculture, preservation, and authority. please add to the discussion!
(**pss: obvs. you guys know there’s another option, right? it’s that everyone has access to food and shelter and health care and child care and the necessities of life, and so therefore EVERYONE is free to follow their passion of any sort – whether it’s accumulation of wealth or of POGs or of ubuntu applications. and you probly know how i feel about this solution. feel free to join me in the vanguard.)