What exactly is the business model of Academia.edu? Will this be the future? To analyze the situation we must observe two different aspects, at first the technological side. Academia.edu is a website, the content there is pure digital. That is different to classical libraries which were based on printed journals. The second aspect is the idea of an Higher education market. That neoliberal ideology is different from Meritocracy which is widespread used in non-capitalist systems.
Academia.edu combines both features. It is based on modern technology and on the idea that education is a product which has to be consumed. And now we can answer the original question how to earn money with this idea. Because Academia.edu is not the first company who is trying to do so. Digital oriented education markets are also important for companies like Apple, Google and AT&T. For example, the business model of AT&T is, to deliver DSL bandwith to the customer and he has to pay 40 US$ per month. The business model of Apple is to sell ipads to the customer which costs also a huge amount of money. In that domain, Academia.edu is located. That means, it is one of the companies who identified a higher education digital market as their business model and are now trying to get as much customers as possible.
Perhaps it becomes clear, why most universities are not happy with this ideology. If an institution has selected the opposite as their market, for example a non-digital form of education plus a non-business lifestyle then he sees in Academia.edu the worst-case scenario. Let us go into the detail of how some universities of the past are working.
So called public universites are taking taxpayer money, they are not financed by customers, but by a socialist ideology which beliefes that earning money is wrong. The same universities beliefs also, that only printed journals are the right way of teaching, because digital pdf documents will lower the quality. What we will see is the perfect storm. If an university sees themself not as market driven but as a public institution which is outside the normal business sector and at the same time, sees their pathway into the future driven by printed books stored in a library, then this university has a problem with everything which is different. For example, with AT&T, Google Scholar but also with Academia.edu This explains, why Academia.edu is hated by most public universities, it is something which is out of their radar.
Gets Academia.edu money from the taxpayer? No. Has Academia.edu printed books? No. The logical consequence from a neoluddist view is, that it can’t be good. Everything which is market driven and which is digital has to be defeated. That is the reason, why Academia.edu gets so much pressure and why many professors are boycotting the company. They are not against Academia.edu they are only against technology and consumerism. Quotes:
– “I distrust it for an entirely different reason”
– “I can say that I am not real satisfied with the service.”
– “Academia.edu is academic spam.”
Let us investigate in detail, who money is earned in the education market. Everything is grouped around products. For example, the ipad is a product (physical goods), the AT&T DSL cable is a product, the Academia.edu subscription is a product, the Google website is a product, Microsoft Software is product, edutainment games are a software product and so on. The number of companies is endless. The consumer get access to the product through buying it. Sometimes it has to do with money, for example for the Apple ipad, sometimes the money is earned with advertisement. In nearly all cases the products are connected to technology. For example a DSL modem has to do with fiber optic cables, while a Search engine has to with a datacenter full of linux computers. What companies like AT&T and google are doing is basicly transform computer technology into consumer friendly products and compete for the money the enduser is able to pay.
This is the main difference to classical education system. Classical education 100 years ago was not focussed on technology but on institutions like a school or a university. It was not market driven but access to the ressources was based on structure of society, for example only a pastor was able to read the bible. The idea in the past was to exclude people from education because the ressource is limited, the idea of a market driven economy is to increase the number of sales, that means to sell the ipad as much as possible.
Academia.edu is focussed on a special aspect in higher education. The publishing of papers. THe system of the past was not market driven and the aim was to no publish too much. The normal way academic publishing in the past worked was, that a certain person for example a professor or a pastor has written a manuscript and he is allowed to publish it in the journal. In the workflow two things are missing. At first, technology and secondly the money.
In the last run, I want to describe an antipattern to Academia.edu. It is a system which can be called classical education in the past. A typical scenario might be, that we have an pastor which is a respected part of a smallville. He has read some books and now want’s to publish his own manuscript. He is doing so because he feels that there is a need to bring forward the education. It takes around 5 years until his manuscript get printed in a journal. With this plot is nothing wrong. It is pure neoluddism, because it is oriented on the society of the past and on classical printed books about a topic of the church. It is not possible that everyone is pastor, and it is not possible that the mansucript gets published on the Internet.
Is consumerism and Meritocracy the same? Open Science
Quote: “the public education system. It was created to do just what it did—manufacture a neoliberal, social Darwinian, consumer driven market place that marginalized students along socioeconomic lines based on a score from a standardized test.“ page 14 “Neoliberalism, Social Darwinism, and Consumerism Masquerading as School Reform”, 2013, https://christienken.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Neoliberalism_Tienken_2013.pdf
According to this quote consumerism results into a Meritocracy system. But is this conclusion right? As far as i know, a Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT Test) doesn’t measure the household income, but the skills to answers questions about Math, English and Physics. Or in detail: the students have to answer questions which are already known, at least by the professors, so they want to know, if the students have done their homework. Consumerism is something opposite. For example, if somebody is buying a book at Amazon, Amazon is not interested in his ability to read the english language, Amazon is only interested in money.