With the announcement today, “We’ve set the news free,” Nature takes another big step toward being the dominant cluster of science knowledge within the network that forms the commons. By making all of the news pieces free, Nature is releasing nodes of current science into the complexity of emergent online knowledge. Network laws can then manage these nodes cognitively so they become part of relevant patterns of knowledge to study and learn online.
An example of what that means will be the trajectory of a NatureNews story from last week called “Scientists supersize quantum mechanics.” That story is already prominent, showing up as number three on the list of search returns for “quantum news” on Google. There is more: Because NatureNews is opening its full Archives, the quantum story will remain in the network of ideas for as long as it is not replaced by a more elucidating and/or current story. Eventually, the story will fade as it is replaced by more current reports on the subject it covers. Teachers and students can stay informed of the latest in many sciences by connecting to NatureNews RSS feeds.
Although they have set the news free, many underlying articles at Nature remain limited to paid subscribers. That will change because those articles, when they are locked away from the commons by subscriptions, are downgraded by not being able to participate in the network that forms the online knowledge commons.