<CPOV> The costs of knowledge

Andreas Kemper andreas.erich.kemper at googlemail.com
Tue Mar 23 13:46:18 CET 2010

Hi Juliana

Thats really a necessary question.
We had in the germanspeaking Wikipedia in the last year trouble about it.

In Germany you can get money from the state, if you are publishing books or
articles. And since two years you can get money, if you publish
internet-articles. If your internet-article has enough clicks, than you can
get 30-40 € for each article. If your article is published by an
organization, than you get 60% and the organization gets 40% of the royalty.
Each year the internet-authors in Germany get 12 million € from the state
(from VG-Wort).

I was in contact with VG-Wort and they told me, they want also give money to
Wikipedia / the Wikipeda-Authors. But the Wikimedia-Foundation and the
German chapter didn't want to have the money. They didn't told anything to
the German authors. The ideology: Wikipedia-Authors have a lot of fun, if
they write articles for Wikipedia. It's not work, it's a hobby.

If there an internet-content-organization is not part of the VG-Wort, than
the internet-authors can get a special distribution. VG Wort was giving
around three € for each article (if it has enough clicks). It's not much
money for one article, but some authors have written thousands of articles.
The German Wikimedia-Chapter knows about this special distribution, but they
didn't inform the Wikipedia-Authors about this easy possibility to get money
for their work.


2010/3/23 Juliana Brunello <juliana at networkcultures.org>

> Hi all,
> This is a two paragraph quote from a text published at firstmonday called
> ‘Signs of epistemic disruption: Transformations in the knowledge
> system of the academic journal’ by William W. Cope and Mary
> Kalantzis.
> http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2309/2163
> I find their questions not only interesting, but necessary.
> “Everybody who writes for Wikipedia has to have another source of
> income. What would happen to the global scholarly publishing industry if
> academics assumed collective and universal responsibility for self
> publishing, an industry supporting in 2004 a reported 250,000 employees
> worldwide with a US$65 billion turnover (Peters, 2007)? What would happen
> to scholarly associations and research institutes that have historically
> gained revenue from the sale of periodicals and books? An ironical
> consequence of a move to social production would, in the
> much–trumpeted era of the knowledge or creative economy, be to value
> knowledge making and creativity at zero when coal. How do knowledge
> workers eat and where do they live? Without doing away with the market
> entirely, we are consigning a good deal of knowledge work to involuntary
> volunteerism, unaccountable cross–subsidy, charity or penury. We
> know from experience the fate of workers in other domains of unpaid labor,
> such as the unpaid domestic work of women and carers. Making it free means
> that it is exploited. In the case of the knowledge economy, the exploiters
> are the likes of Google who take the unpaid work of social producers and
> make a fortune from it.
> In this perspective, in this era of the new, digital media we might be
> witnessing no more than one of the old marvels of industrial capitalism
> — a technology that improves productivity. In the case of knowledge
> making, the efficiencies are so great — print encyclopedias vs.
> Wikipedia, celluloid movies vs. digital movies posted to YouTube, PDF
> journal articles vs. print journals — that we get the impression
> that the costs have reduced to nothing. But they have not. They have only
> been lowered. We have become too dazzled by the reduction in costs to
> notice the costs we are now paying. So low are these costs in fact that we
> are can even afford to make these cultural products in our spare time, and
> not worry too much about giving away the fruits of our labors to companies
> who have found ways to exploit them in newly emerging information markets.
> Knowledge is a product of human labor and it needs human labor to make it
> available. There can never be zero costs of production and distribution of
> knowledge and culture, theoretical or empirical. At most, there are
> productivity improvements. Far from ushering in a new mode of production,
> the driving force is more of the same engine that over the past few
> centuries has made capitalism what it is.”
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