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  • A quickie Diarish thing or if this were an Open Thread:

    So here’s the thing, the internet is a reality similar to the world outside your door. It’s basically a public space and once in it anything can happen. You can meet other people, like the real reality and you can conduct business. In a way you can move around just like a street or a highway. In the past the internet was called the “information superhighway” for just that reason.

    But a street or a highway belongs to the commons. That means that you can enter onto it without paying someone to enter on to it and travel around. Now sometimes there are toll roads or even rail roads that are not part of the commons that might work better for what you want to do but basically the streets, the non-toll roads belong to us all for free use.

    So what about the internet “information superhighway?” Well no it is more of a toll road than a freeway. To get onto it you have to pay a toll to someone.

    And that makes this interesting:


    And who opposes it? Well, of course, the cable companies and their friends.

    (Excuse me Kathy for using this as an Open Thread. By the way, I have enjoyed reading you and the Agonist community’s comments to you here.)

  • Kathy:
    bookmarked your sites and will keep in touch.

    While you are indeed free to wander down the highway and hobnob with friends and strangers, that highway costs money to build and maintain. In a true Commons, the cost is borne by all through taxes or shared work.
    You and I don’t pay the monthly hosting fee or any costs associated with keeping the lights on here. For better or worse, the Agonist is a business for those who do pay the bills and that gives them the right to call the shots.
    If we don’t like their decisions, we can go elsewhere but we can’t deny them the right to make those decisions.
    Within some rules. you can play in Central Park because it is public (Commons). However, you need special permission to play in Grammercy Park because it is privately owned (not Commons).

    As far as your linked article, if the network is tax-funded (Commons) it should be free since our taxes would have paid for it. Companies seeking to fill the same need on a for-profit basis would naturally oppose. This is hardly news: a la for-profit prisons; for-profit traffic camera systems; for-profit armies, (consulting security services); privatizing the school system; etc.

    • Please, you have misread me. Of course The Agonist is private property and I am a guest here by the good graces of the host.

      But the rest of your comments are spot on, especially re for-profit prisons etc. But I still think it’s newsworthy that the FCC is even considering it and that it deserves wide notice in case any of us find ourselves in a place to effect its creation.

  • To anyone still reading:

    I guess it is unlikely but think it is worth asking:

    Do any of you (especially contributors) have ties to Berkeley, CA (where I live)? (or the East Bay or the SF Bay Area)?

    Would you be interested in saying “hi” and/or shootin’ the sh– about other blogging projects to get started or similar? I’m not interested in poaching and have no money to offer — just grabbing a last chance to ask around in case there are actual or virtual neighbors. lord (my last name) -at- basiscraft.com works to reach me by email.

  • Looks like somebody killed the goose that laid the golden eggs through a rather ham-handed series of decisions. Yeah, sure, ‘they have every right to make those decisions’. But that’s under the current model. I’d suggest the current model needs a little tinkering.

  • SoV et al:
    The owners don’t view this site as a community of (more-or-less) like-minded people people who exchange views, learn, teach and think They haven’t a clue as to the time, effort and dedication (love?) it takes to establish, maintain and grow such an enterprise.

    To them, it’s just another internet property and now it’s not profitable enough to justify paying an editor-in-chief more than a pittance. So be it.

    I’m not going to turn out the lights. I don’t think any of us want to do that. But our contributions and effort on behalf of the site won’t continue. For example, while many posts are sparse comment on news items, the Other Horizons posts we instituted on Tuesdays took a lot more thought and time to prepare. The four of us who wrote them are no longer posting. So be it.

    • If it’s so close to the margins that 2/3 of the former salary of the editor-in-chief makes it unprofitable then why aren’t they selling the site?

      Sounds to me less like hard-headed business practices and more like squeezing nickels so they can spend the excess elsewhere. This is one of the reasons why the model needs to change. The books need to be a lot more open, for one thing.

  • What is the total cost of running the site for a year, approximately? Say, broken down by basic categories (editor, hosting etc)… It would be useful to know, in case there is anyone interested in taking this over.

    • I have no idea what they pay for hosting. Shopping around, I find quotes up to several hundred per month. An EIC salary is undetermined: Steve’s pay was $300/month for 5+ hours/day and pretty much a 6+ day week – and they were cutting it to $100/month. The hourly rate worked out to essentially free.

      While the community could reconstitute itself elsewhere for only the cost of hosting if it were all-volunteer, Michael Collins correctly noted that the Agonist has a reservoir of ‘good will’ and reputation which would not attach to a new site. Starting from scratch would make the revenue side too slim to matter. It would not be financially viable for several years, if ever. A new startup would also lack the archived posts, which is one of our strong points.

      Buying the Agonist is another option, but I have no idea what the owners would ask for it, how we could raise the cash or how such a ‘communal ownership’ would be constituted and administered.

      We had a brief dialog with the owners, then silence. I imagine they are weighing their options but I don’t expect any financial support from them at this point. When I have their feedback, I will post it.

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