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February 07, 2007


Jon Gos

For some people it's difficult to see how this can be effective in practice but I think it would absolutely work.

It's going to take someone reputable like yourself to demonstrate the business model. Why not you? You should self-publish your next book and give it away as an e-book....as an experiment. A publisher will never agree to this so you'd have to do it outside the publishing system, independently. It could work as a proof for your own theory.

In many ways, this blog (being published for 'free' by you, a published author who profits from his writing) can be thought of as the first step.

Jed Christiansen

I generally don't like being the damper on a party, but this just seems a bit intellectually lazy.

"A is now B!" "B is now A!"
"War is Peace!" "Peace is War!"

What Negroponte described was a long-term evolutionary trend based on improving technology.

You seem to be proposing a long-term trend based on sociology, and it's very difficult to back up. While I agree that what you propose will happen and happen more in the future, it will likely happen only on the margins of the industries. (The Long Tail, perhaps?!) The core of these industries will continue in their current form for quite some time.


These are fairly safe laws to bet on.

Why? Because they are both based on a fairly simple principle:

Over time, things will change.

Chris Anderson

Other examples:

Software and phone calls become free, while playgrounds and streetcorners become paid.


Oh ,yes .right .

Ben Hyde

There is a more general form of this 'law.' The value chain is quite voluptuous. Firms in the skinny parts most of the capture value, firms in the commoditized parts don't. Systolic waves move through the system.

Patxi Bonel

Let’s guess. As price is a balance between offer and demand, those industries whose services are evolving to commodities due to competition pressure are going to be almost free in the long term, while those industries whose services are going through a differentiation process are going to increase their margins.
We are willing to pay for scarcity and not for abundance; we'd pay for those things that make ourselves different from others.

Patxi Bonel

Give me a second try. We could also try to explain 'Anderson Switch' statement using Clayton M. Christensen's disruptive innovation cycle model. Disruptive innovation leads existing products and services to commodities. While technologies and services being substituted are only used to support higher value products. Just from wikipedia, think about: horses vs. automobiles, mainframes vs. personal computers, cable vs. hydraulic excavators, wired vs. wireless, satellite vs. wired, and so on.

Rex Wood

Is it not more about shifting the burden of cost. The cost-value proposition becomes far broader and less restrictive.

I choose what I see as having value and what I will pay for. They don't have to be the same thing, just connected, even tenuously.


People will pay for what they have to pay for or feel like they ought to pay for and steal what they think is ok to steal - if all of their friends are stealing music by downloading illegally, it becomes socially acceptable to do so. However, seeing a dollar bill fall out of someone's pocket that you're walking behind will probably prompt most people to pick it up and hand it back to the rightful owner. That "good feeling" is worth at least a buck! But a song you already hear for free on the radio? Why would you pay a buck for that???

Erik Schmidt

@ Jon Gos: Lawrence Lessig has already done what you suggested. Check out his book "Free Culture" at Amazon and at Creative Commons. I downloaded the PDF, read a few sections, then purchased the hardcover book. The convenience of the book format was worth the purchase price for me, and I knew what I was buying before I shelled out my money.

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You seem to be proposing a long-term trend based on sociology, and it's very difficult to back up. While I agree that what you propose will happen and happen more in the future, it will likely happen only on the margins of the industries.

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I think you're right on the 'money' – to a point, of course. For instance, I think that mostly the media is going to be affected by this change. Why I say this, is because this is more of a social revolution (yes, it is caused due to a technological one) than a business revolution. And already you can see it happen – radio stations are becoming specialized (and for good reason) and people are going to have to change many of their business models. I'm supporting it. But I think in other places, where technology is easy to integrate into traditional business models, it will serve to make those models better – and that's how change will happen there (even in media, notably the printed media such as books etc.)


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Hi. I agree in principal with your ideas at the same time I do believe if someone invents something before others.
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The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

Notes and sources for the book

FREE was available in all digital forms--ebook, web book, and audiobook--for free shortly after the hardcover was published on July 7th. The ebook and web book were free for a limited time and limited to certain geographic regions as determined by each national publisher; the unabridged MP3 audiobook (get zip file here) will remain free forever, available in all regions.

Order the hardcover now!