Everything digital will be free?

I went to the BarCampMoneyNYC yesterday, and there was a discussion about Chris Anderson’s statement that everything digital will be free. The discussion is led by Hank Williams, who wrote a post titled “Free is killing us blame vcs” on his blog.

Here I want to just give some of my random thoughts on this. I think when we come to product we consume, there are roughly two types of products. One type meets our material needs. The other meets our spiritual needs (spiritual might not be the right word here, maybe we say for the consumption of the brain. I guess the exact definition is not critical here. We just need to get the idea.) When we come to the product that our brain consume, this kind of product is so important for us that it is vital to keep them accessible to all the people. So when we come to this kind of product, do we have to put the money value into it? But the producers of this kind of product still need to survive. I think one possible solution is to make it easier for them to tie their spiritual product with some other material product, such as t-shirt, or giving a concert and make money from the material product. If so, will this happen? Probably. Human being is more a spiritual being (again spiritual might not be right word) than a material one. For me personally, if I can do what I really like to do, and be able to survive and help out my family and friends, I will be very happy, even it means I cannot make crazy amount of money (didn’t Bill Gates make way too much money?). I may sound like an idealist. But in our age, to be an idealist is less and less costly. 🙂 I think this is what many people will choose to do.

I guess another way to divide product is: product that belong to platform/playground and thus is used by all the people; product that only target a specific group. For product that belong to the platform, I always hope they are inexpensive and more accessible to all the people. Practically, when you are building a platform, because its user base is very large, it is thus easier to tie that user base to something that can make money and thus support the platform. As we have seen, if you don’t make it free or very cheap, another competitor come along and figure out a model to make it free or less expensive, people will start moving to that one.

This topic will be more and more debated in the near future as software and web make it easier and easier for people to produce, reproduce and share “consciousness”. A large range of consciousness product will appear in the near future. Whether we should put money value into them and how will be a vital question we have to find out.

This post is just a random thought. I need to read more to write more clearly about it.


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