the last visible dog (intertext) wrote,
the last visible dog

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Footnote: a little troubling?

I'm curious to know what the historians on my flist think about Footnote. It purports to be a public web repository for original documents, and also has various web 2.0 features that allow users to make collections, upload things themselves, annotate etc. Apparently they have a "unique relationship" with the National Archives (this is heavily, if not exclusively, USan, in case you're wondering). One review comment I saw referred to it as the "Flickr for documents." Well, no, I don't think so.

At first, I thought "hey, cool," but after a look around, I found something rather troubling - mostly the fact that you have to pay $59 per year for the use of it! Yes, some documents are free, but it's unclear which ones, and who decides which one are of "national historic importance" (free) and which ones get put behind the pay-per-view curtain? There doesn't appear to be an institutional price or group rate, which one would rather expect. Surely, if the documents are from the National Archive they should all be free? Or is the payment now because this company has ownership of the digitized versions?

Anyway, just thought I'd put this out there - I'll be interested to hear what others think. For me, it's much too American to be of any interest professionally (as teacher or researcher), but as a research tool, is it the beginning of what could be a disturbing trend, or is it less important than it thinks it is?
Tags: capitalism, research, web 2.0

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