Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Future of online reference

Sam Vaknin, The Future of Online Reference (Part I, Part II), United Press International, November 11, 2003. A group interview with Patrick Spain, CEO of Alacritude (publisher of eLibrary and, Troy Williams, founder and CEO of Questia, and Tom Panelas, Director of Corporate Communications of the Encyclopedia Britannica. The topic is how these online reference works and services compete with one another and how they compete with free or open-access alternatives. Excerpt:
[Vaknin] The long-heralded transition from free content to fee-based information may revive the fortunes of online reference vendors. But as long as the Internet -- with its 2,000,000,000 visible pages (and 5 times as many pages in its databases) -- is free, encyclopedias have little by way of a competitive advantage. Could you please comment on these statements?

[Spain] I agree. Still, Open Directories and free powerful search engines (which, let's remember, make their money by trying to sell you goods and services relating to the keywords used in your search) only constitute 5 percent (or less) of what amounts to "research."