Last week, I blogged about Radiohead’s pay what you want release.
I’d like to explore this idea a little more deeply. After one more reference to the idea of free music, I’d like to talk about free writing.
Now it’s not surprising that Scott Ginsberg (Nametag Guy) is enthusiastic about this:
After all, positioning isn’t about MARKET share; it’s about MIND share.
Become the person people think to call before they take another step.
And it certainly isn’t surprising that Seth Godin is a huge fan of doing it this way:
A Google search finds more than 200,000 matches for the word ‘ideavirus’, which I made up. Some will ask, “how much money did you make?” And I think a better question is, “how much did it cost you?” How much did it cost you to write the most popular ebook ever and to reach those millions of people and to do a promotion that drove an expensive hardcover to #5 on Amazon and #4 in Japan and led to translation deals in dozens of countries and plenty of speaking gigs?
It cost nothing.
A different take is provided by author Jonathan Lethem, who discusses “second sourcing,” a term he has coined to denote the appropriation and reuse of intellectual property.
The dream of a perfect systematic remuneration is nonsense. I pay rent with the price my words bring when published in glossy magazines and at the same moment offer them for almost nothing to impoverished literary quarterlies, or speak them for free into the air in a radio interview. So what are they worth? What would they be worth if some future Dylan worked them into a song? Should I care to make such a thing impossible?
And then there’s another kind of writing: writing software. Matt Mullenweg, the creator of WordPress goes even further,
“For me, open source is a moral thing. Software should be free; it’s our philosophy as a company.”
I hate it when people conflate free and open. Open source may or may not be free. Free software may or may not be open. Furthermore, although I think Matt Mullenweg is an incredible genius, but this kind of Richard Stallman-esque thinking just seems frivolous to me. Sure, it’s nice if it’s free. It’s even better if it’s open so that I can change it. But the ultimate acid test of utility is fitness for use. Does it do what I want?? If it doesn’t, who cares if it’s free! And if it does exactly what I want, why should I begrudge having to pay for it?
I mean, what’s the difference between saying, “software should be free,” and saying “massages should be free?” They both strike me as absurd.