Writing isn’t easy. After spending countless hours researching, developing and designing a text, it’s no surprise that people can be territorial about their creations.
The territorial imperative has pluses and minus when it comes to writing and knowledge creation. On the plus side, the potential of economic benefits can motivate people to do really hard work. On the negative side, locking original content behind paywalls may impede creativity and scholarship as a conversation. If you cannot access knowledge, you cannot build upon it nor learn from it.
Additionally, how we develop and interpret knowledge claims can be shaded by our personal, economic interests.
Thus, both as a reader and a writer, it is important to keep in mind the ACRL’s Information Has Value Framework:
“[I]nformation possesses several dimensions of value, including as a commodity, as a means of education, as a means to influence, and as a means of negotiating and understanding the world. Legal and socioeconomic interests influence information production and dissemination”Framework, 2015, n.p.
Information is a commodity. It has value. So,
- if you publish personal information via Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, you should understand those companies are benefiting financially from your disclosures.
- if you are a scholar who spent three years researching a book, you might be unhappy if someone lifts your story line and sells it as an action movie.
- if you are a CEO of a marijuana, alcohol, gambling company, you might want to fund research that suggests your products are benign.
Information is a tool that can be weaponized for legal and socioeconomic interests. Google Scholar may provide access to the Open Web, yet private interests such as Elsevier or UMI limit access to information for those who can pay for such access. Understand the role of intellectual property in content creation.