Maybe some regular reader can set me straight, but I swear that recently I linked to Kevin Kelly's terrific piece with this in his blog, The Technium (Kelly was one of the founders of Wired) However, can't find it, so I either dreamed it or accidentally deleted it. Seriously, it is the best thing I've read this year as part of this blogging effort and was a core part of a brief presentation that I made to last month's Public Media 2008 conference in L.A. Now comes Chris Anderson with a lengthy article in Wired that's previewing a new book, FREE, that will be out next year.
Kelly begins by noting:
The internet is a copy machine. At its most foundational level, it copies every action, every character, every thought we make while we ride upon it. In order to send a message from one corner of the internet to another, the protocols of communication demand that the whole message be copied along the way several times. IT companies make a lot of money selling equipment that facilitates this ceaseless copying. Every bit of data ever produced on any computer is copied somewhere. The digital economy is thus run on a river of copies. Unlike the mass-produced reproductions of the machine age, these copies are not just cheap, they are free. ...
He goes on:
... From my study of the network economy I see roughly eight categories of intangible value that we buy when we pay for something that could be free. ...
These eight "generatives," as he calls them ("A generative value is a quality or attribute that must be generated, grown, cultivated, nurtured. A generative thing can not be copied, cloned, faked, replicated, counterfeited, or reproduced.") are as follows:
Link: The Technium.
Anderson looks at "free" a different way (though if you think advertising, for example, is truly free, think about how much of the cost of the products you buy goes into making you aware of and desire them). Here's his taxonomy:
- "Freemium" (basic version free, premium version costs you)
- Cross-subsidies (free product entices you to buy something else)
- Zero marginal cost (e.g., online music)
- Gift economy (e.g., open source software)
We can learn from both these guys, but for those of us making the transition from legacy media to emerging forms, I think Kelly's offers especially valuable insights. --Dennis