UbuWeb is Free

Today I followed a link from UbuWeb’s twitter account (as I usually do) to this 1986 article in Amiga World about Andy Warhol’s use of the Amiga to make art. I happened to realize the URL was specifically Mexican (http://ubumexico.centro.org.mx/) and I started to wonder why the most comprehensive, open digital collection of Avante Garde Art is being hosted in Mexico. Because I have been hanging out with Canadians for too long, I immediately thought of the Patriot Act, and tweeted as much half in jest, half serious:

To which UbuWeb responded with the following:

Centro is a Mexican arts university in Mexico City. Here is a rough translation of their about page:

CENTRO is a higher education institution specializing in creative studies, training through professional leadership and curriculum with a careful balance between idea and execution, talent and discipline, risk and certainty, with an interdisciplinary approach and entrepreneur. A proposal consistent in each of its parts, from the facilities and people, to the content, all within the same spirit: to redefine the scope of creativity.

So, the most awesome avante-garde, open and freely accessible digital repository is being hosted by a Mexican University. Kudos to Centro for doing this, it is an amazing service to schaolrship and researchers around the globe. What’s more, the fact that UbuWeb has been operating for free for 17 years is amazing. With all the blood, money, and ink shed over MOOCs concomitant with the endless discussions of the future of education, it’s refreshing to see a university do something that actually matters as a public service. And funny enough, I’m sure Centro is not all that interested in Coursera. 🙂

And I want to believe my question about the Mexican hosting precipitated UbuWeb’s final tweet, which says it all:

Free as in no ties to venture fucking capital.

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5 Responses to UbuWeb is Free

  1. Alan Levine says:

    I caught a tweet from Audrey Watters at that California Money MOOC event (or whatever it was) where Koller said that each Coursera course costs them $55,000 to create **not counting faculty time**

    WTF costs $55k?

  2. Reverend says:

    Alan,

    Yeah, that is an insane quote. Bothing like being bloated before you even have a product. I still wanna know what EDx is doing with that 60 million. The question of money around these resources makes me wonder if we are any closer to open as Martin Weller suggested in his most recent post: http://nogoodreason.typepad.co.uk/no_good_reason/2013/01/openness-has-won-now-what.html

  3. If we’re not counting faculty time (or my time), then the MOOCs we created cost almost nothing – just their share of being hosted on my website. CFHE may have cost more – I know there was money involved, but that was all handled by Athabasca. If we *do* include my time, it costs more, but still nowhere near $50K per course. And even if we *do* count all my costs and expenses, the entire Connectivist MOOC project is nowhere near $60 million – it’s far less than $1 million, far less than $500K.

  4. Reverend says:

    @Alan,
    Yeah, I really want to know the details. And given they aren;t paying for faculty time, the universities are, it sounds like a whole lotta profit for glorified LMS courses.

    @Stephen,
    Yeah, I would really love a breakdown of the costs. It would be interesting to see how this maps on Yale’s project that had a price tag of $25,000 to $30,000 for recording a class. I understand how those numbers could happen, but right now the value of the labor in relationship to the use, reuse, and support seems to be murky. The money should be going to professors, support staff, etc, and the recent news of Coursera’s business model and Duke’s provost talking about not making “the mistake the newspaper industry did, of giving our product away free online for too long.” There seems to be some sense that this model is somehow the new subscription model to make money and get paid for giving away these services. Something just seems broken in that perspective. Where is the push to figure out how to do online learning well? Where is the experimenting with bringing the courses up to speed with the networked world? When the first thing we talk about is getting paid so we don’t become irrelevant, I think the irrelevance might have already happened 🙂

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