Free This Book

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Chris Anderson, author of FREE: The Future of a Radical Price, talks about how the value of information and services is not always best tied to price.


Chris Anderson

Comments [28]

Victoria from New York

Um, Chris, all those "amateurs" want to be paid. They don't actually want to do it for free.

Aug. 14 2009 10:59 AM
Lucia Guimaraes from NYC

I find the argument about coaching non-professional journalists disingenuous to say the least. Any skilled writer can write well about a subject that he or she knows about. Anderson's argument that the best writers on any given subject are non-journalists reflects ignorance about the best specialized journalists in the US media. Also, a journalist bound by the professional rules of an institution, monitored by his editors, will bring out a balanced coverage of any public interest subject in a way no amateur or dilettante will. Wired magazine is taking a beating from the general drop in ad revenue so free content must be welcome.
ANYBODY should be paid to provide content to a for-profit company, be he or she a journalist, a homemaker or a science expert.
Because people want the monetary advantage of media exposure, or they just want the narcissistic thrill of being read, we have this army of free labor that made the likes of Huffington Post and the Daily Beast possible. They flash celebrity columns that account for NO reporting, written by people who make a lot of money in their professions.
None of these aggregators or publishers of free work come anywhere near replacing the reporting done by the New York Times or The Guardian. Speed has nothing to do with accuracy or consistent coverage. And read the ironic Daily Beast contract controversy exposed by writer Joe McGiniss, who refused their $250 for a piece they would own in any format, perpetually.

Jul. 08 2009 11:13 AM
Harold from Lower East

Please ask him to explain the Wikipedia plagiarism.

Jul. 08 2009 11:06 AM
Mike from Inwood

The coach gets paid and the producer gets paid by being published which will hopefully lead to something better? Sure, just like rug exporters in South Asia coach kids to weave.

Jul. 08 2009 11:04 AM
ceolaf from brooklyn

It is not hard to cite Wikipedia, even though it is a changing medium.

1) The established style guides (e.g. MLA, APA) explain how to add the date that an electronic article is accessed.

2) Wikipedia provides permanent URLs to each version/revision of each article.

By using footnotes or endnotes, Mr. Anderson could have cited his sources without any problems. His argument for why he couldn't do this is disingenuous.

Jul. 08 2009 11:01 AM
Alex from Park Slope

The first caller didn't ask how the "coach" get paid. The caller asked how much the "coach" gets paid.

Typical editor who doesn't care what's being said to him but only cares about what he's saying.

Jul. 08 2009 11:00 AM
Neal from Manhattan

Since many citizens are doing at least part of the job of a journalist, maybe we should have add journalism as required class in high school.

Jul. 08 2009 11:00 AM
Caitlin from Jersey City

I think has a good model- you can post a set number of photos for free, or infinite photos (plus get some analysis tools and other extra things) for an annual fee.

Could this setup be applied to journalism? The big headline stories you can hear anywhere could be free, but the more exclusive, indepth stories could be by subscription.

Jul. 08 2009 10:59 AM
Ali from New Jersey

As much as bit distribution is "almost free", the hardware (fiber optics, etc) needed to sustain it is not. The debate over internet neutrality a few years ago that ended in something of a ceasefire from the phone companies testifies to the fundamentally paid nature of the internet. To dwell on the software/bit-level and call it free is misleading.

Jul. 08 2009 10:58 AM
hjs from 11211

thanks. it is FREE!

Jul. 08 2009 10:58 AM
peter g.

He's giving his book away?

Jul. 08 2009 10:58 AM
ceolaf from brooklyn

How is his argument about media different than giving away promotional copies? That's not the miracle of "free" in any sort of new or interesting way.

Giving it a new name (i.e. "freemium") doesn't make it new or interesting.

Jul. 08 2009 10:58 AM
Chicago Listener

You will always need someone to sit at city hall and simply pay attention. You can be the most clever person in the world, but if you don't know the players in the room (as your lobbyist crowd-sourcing project shows) then you don't know the whole story.

Jul. 08 2009 10:58 AM
James Gathings from New York

Does the economist pay it's reporters? I didn't think they paid the folks who wrote their artists.

Jul. 08 2009 10:57 AM
Eric from New York

But wasn't there an article on the NY Times recently that Wired was losing advertising dollars faster than most magazines and was in major financial trouble?

Is Wired actually doing ok just from their print sales?

So is his own publication proof that this model doesn't work?

Jul. 08 2009 10:53 AM
peter g.

So if it doesn't add to someone else's brand, it isn't worth producing?

Jul. 08 2009 10:53 AM
E.F. Slattery from Astoria

Please ask Chris about the Wikipedia debacle concerning his book: were chunks of it lifted to illustrate a point? Style guides have long included ways to cite online info, so I don't buy the no-need-to-cite argument. If it's not ironic, it presents a huge credibility issue for an editor. Thanks.

Jul. 08 2009 10:53 AM
Richard Lee from Park Slope

Oh, for Pete's sake, this is silly!!

All Mr. Anderson is really discussing is a variation of loss-leading sales practices, combined with shifting the costs from the immediate (online) consumers to advertisers and others for whom our personal information is of interest. Finding ways to (1)commoditise new areas of life, and (2) trade the new commodity as a new medium of exchange doesn't make anything "free."


Jul. 08 2009 10:52 AM
Chicago Listener

The other issue with google is that it draws in eyes from all over the world, viewers that are meaningless to local advertisers. If I'm trying to sell cars in Chicago, I need local eyeballs, not an expat in Singapore clicking in for the Cubs score.

Jul. 08 2009 10:52 AM
tyip from New York

There are multiple meanings of the word "free". It can mean "free from monetary cost" or "free to do whatever you please". The whole open source movement is evolved around the second definition. As a matter of fact, open source projects place no restriction on charging for the product.

The GNU Project website has an excellent page describing the definition.

Jul. 08 2009 10:52 AM
KC from NYC

"Bits are free"? That's simply untrue. Google isn't "free"; they pay for their operations by collecting data on their users, then targeting their advertising. They are a big corporation with a staff and multi-million-dollar server facilities. This Jeff Jarvis-style embrace of a theory of free information is completely divorced from the REALITY of how information is collected and dispersed. It's nice to think things work this way, but it's also nonsense.

Jul. 08 2009 10:52 AM
Chicago Listener

The thing that is hindering newspapers is the lack of clever thinking about how to package and promote the product online. They are finally calling themselves "digital media companies" that also print newspapers. But that only means they have embraced the idea that the web isn't going away (duh!).

Jul. 08 2009 10:50 AM
Tonky from brooklyn

Wrong, I think.

Bits do not cost nothing. Google consumes HUGE amounts of electricity with their server farms. There is a finite cost per google search, monetarily and in terms of carbon footprint. On a global scale this degrades the environment.

Jul. 08 2009 10:49 AM

Why isn't his book free?

Jul. 08 2009 10:48 AM
Brian from Brooklyn

So... you won't mind if I steal this book.

Jul. 08 2009 10:48 AM
ceolaf from brooklyn

I'm sorry, but his argument is junk.

If it really is free, and it is not a trick, then you cannot make money on it -- or least it is so far from assured that it is not a viable business model.

His examples are just wrong, over and over again. And without his examples, his tenuous arguments fall apart. I won't get into it here, but he's got the details of the WSJ argument wrong in critical ways.

Jul. 08 2009 10:48 AM
Caitlin from Jersey City

HJS- go here:

Free for free.

Jul. 08 2009 10:45 AM
hjs from 11211

how do i get this book for FREE?!

Jul. 08 2009 10:23 AM

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