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The Truth Is Paywalled But The Lies Are Free

The headline reiterates something you probably know, but the implication is no less horrific: You can publish — through ostensibly respectable channels — fascist or plain neo-Nazi propaganda and get huge numbers, largely because the publisher doesn’t use a paywall. It’s like the relatively recent past has been obliterated, that very obvious truths need to be articulated all over again.

A problem beyond cost, though, is convenience. I find that even when I am doing research through databases and my university library, it is often an absolute mess: the sites are clunky and constantly demanding login credentials. The amount of time wasted in figuring out how to obtain a piece of research material is a massive cost on top of the actual pricing.

Libraries could offer an antidote, be part of the solution. But Robinson identifies a major problem: Libraries have awful UX, and don’t value UX. Everyone else does and will invest billions in making finding information easy, even pleasurable. When I started my current job this posed an existential risk to libraries — now it’s become even more serious.