“Raw information will become not just a commodity, it will be a nuisance”

August 11, 2009

in imho is just a polite way to say I know you don't give a hoot what I think but I'm going to say it anyway

Chris and Malcolm are both wrong…

The title says.

Once in a while I come across smart people (online only, since you know, we moms are notoriously boring and mundane in real life, and many may even suspect that we have few braincells left so we don’t get engaged in intelligent conversations, in real life – AND that, my friend, was said with a sarcastic tone through gritted teeth, so don’t you mommy police out there flame me!) who I really really want to meet in real life. I found one today

Brad Burnham at Union Square Ventures.

His latest post on the Union Square Ventures blog, Chris and Malcolm are both wrong, is the most elucidating, thought-provoking, argument against both Chris Anderson’s glossy, wrapped-nicely-in-a-package theory of “Freeconomics” and Malcolm Gladwell’s critique of Anderson’s book, Free, in which the theory was mapped out, supported with anecdotal examples (a la Gladwell’s own books?!), packaged, and sold, NOT for free, not any more.

I enjoyed reading Gladwell’s books, but am always wary that easy reading and interesting stories that make you go “A-Ha” do not rigorous research/theorization made. Although I have not had a chance to read Anderson’s book, Free, I have read enough articles summarizing the thesis, AND his previous book, The Long Tail, to also be wary of the same thing.

So, thank you indeed to Mr. Burnham for the article in which his critique of both is summarized in this, ok, granted, nicely-packaged and highly quotable, paragraph

My frustration with the debate about Free is that it seems like a last ditch effort to fit the internet economy into the familiar framework of the industrial economy. That isn’t going to work. Free is not a pricing strategy, a marketing strategy, or the inevitable consequence of a market with low variable costs. It’s a symptom of a much more fundamental economic shift. Until we agree on what resources are scarce and have a framework for how they will be allocated in the future we are not just talking past each other, we are talking about the wrong things.

Mr. Burnham’s argument is that the new currency is ATTENTION (and participation), and it does not come free. Hence the “fundamental shift of economy”.

There is an exchange of value between users, the creators of the raw material – data, content, and meta-data, and the network where that data is converted into insight. This exchange is still governed by the basic laws of economics but the currency is not dollars, it’s attention. The network that takes attention and converts it into insight is also quite different than a traditional firm.

Once again, per my usual excitable nature, I would quote the entire post if I could. Probably better if you take the time and check out the entire post on the Union Square Ventures blog.

AND the last but the not the least, at least in my book

NEVER once did he mention “paradigm shift”. THANK YOU MY GOOD SIR!

***Another great, and very useful, quote, that is absolutely t-Shirt Worthy!***

“Raw information will become not just a commodity, it will be a nuisance.”

(Thanks to @leftunderbooks)

Goodies! A debate!! Timeline of the chain of debate between He said, He said:

Chris Anderson finally published his book, after he pre-released it to reviewers, Free: The Future of a Radical Price, this summer. (It costs $26.99 on Amazon! WTH?!)

Malcolm Gladwell wrote a review for New Yorker, debunking Mr. Anderson’s entire thesis, using, for example, YouTube’s failure to make a profit as fodder, titled: “Price to Sell: Is Free the Future?” Mr. Gladwell’s answer is not surprisingly, NO.

The Business Insider immediately posted a long article, praising Mr. Gladwell’s critique of the hole-ly thesis, “It’s about time.”

Finally, a smart person who is widely considered cool calls b.s. on Chris Anderson’s popular argument that everything should be free.

The glee, oh, the glee.

Mr. Anderson also started engaging Mr. Gladwell in a friendly intellectual debate on his blog: “Dear Malcolm, Why So Threatened?(If you ask me: the title itself is not very friendly at all…)

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