It looks like the world at large is starting to take up the challenge of understanding what it means to base an effort around the economics of abundance instead of scarcity. It’s already a pretty common thread with folks who geek out about things like nanotech, but didn’t really seem to be getting wide attention till just the last few days. It’s something I’ve struggled with explaining for a long time. I’ve been working on and with Linux for more than a decade, been running a free event for mobile enthusiasts for almost 4 years, helped out with barcamps and other community events, and most recently started working on a free service aimed at making every web page mobile.
Over the years, every step of the way, there’s always been someone saying “you know, people value something based on how much they pay for it, not how much it’s worth.” Which really sounds like it gets at a core truth, if for no other reason than because everyone seems to say it. But Linux has succeeded despite all the insistence by all the experts that it would never be able to compete “in the real world”, open source in general continues to roll along and gain more and more steam all the time, open community events are becoming more popular and more accepted (especially within tech). I’m hoping that this thread works itself out and that Chris can do for the economics of abundance what he did for the long tail – turn it into such an accepted and obvious model that folks start to laugh about how often it’s mentioned. It would really save me a lot of time in explaining the things I do. So please, read the Wired article, and some of the follow on conversations and earlier posts:
Hopefully they’ll do a better job of explaining why you can’t dismiss free stuff than I’ve been able to.