I am still exploring Academic Earth, but my first impressions are that it is a great concept that could offer benefits to all participants, up and down the value chain.
For example: students gain access to premium content from leading academics; academics gain global exposure and possibilities for professional advancement (and perhaps some share of the revenue if the concept is appropriately monetized); STM publishers could support presentations with PPV/subscription or sponsored access to appropriate content to which they own the copyright; the site owners charge fees accordingly, and have the chance to offer anonymised user statistics to interested commercial entities.
There are surely opportunities here for STM publishers to support their academic authors and – perhaps – to develop new indirect revenue streams with the site’s owners.
There appear to be some heavy-hitting contributors from prestigious institutions delivering top-quality material.
The interface is elegant, and the web 2.0 elements well-integrated. The platform is sleeky styled, too: I was very taken with the ‘dim the lights’/’lights up’ function.