The Times Select is now free, which is great even if it is a little late. What’s better than this material being free is the reasoning behind it, which recognizes that having the material freely accessible is more valuable than requiring people to pay for the material.
As more businesses realized that creating and sharing information openly can be profitable–as with Open Source Software where the software is free, but industries are built on top of them selling optimal support documentation, support services, and more–then hopefully, hopefully, businesses could soon function with more awareness of gift economies and their model for operation. This in turn could be helpful for academia because the current, and very poorly applied, business-capitalism-market model fails when applied to academia. If more businesses realize the profit involved in gift economies, then perhaps the market metaphor could adapt as well and academia could again be viewed under the larger lens of building the information commons through a gift economy.
The only problem is that academia, like the New York Times’ Times Select, still requires money invested up front. After that, businesses can create a self-sustaining system. However, academia returns on investments to society, creating a structure that requires constant investments, albeit investments that have excellent returns. While the market metaphor will likely continue to be mis-applied to academia–in part because academia’s larger returns can be more difficult to trace–hopefully a modified market metaphor that at least includes the concept of a gift economy could aid academia as a whole.