Wednesday, October 22, 2008

This Will Be an Amusing Read for Years to Come

Andrew Keen:

So how will today's brutal economic climate change the Web 2.0 "free" economy? It will result in the rise of online media businesses that reward their contributors with cash; it will mean the success of Knol over Wikipedia, Mahalo over Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), TheAtlantic.com over the HuffingtonPost.com, iTunes over MySpace, Hulu over YouTube Inc. , Playboy.com over Voyeurweb.com, TechCrunch over the blogosphere, CNN’s professional journalism over CNN’s iReporter citizen-journalism... The hungry and cold unemployed masses aren’t going to continue giving away their intellectual labor on the Internet in the speculative hope that they might get some "back end" revenue. "Free" doesn’t fill anyone’s belly; it doesn’t warm anyone up.

When, in 50 years time, the definitive histories of the Web 2.0 epoch are written, historians will look back at the open-source mania between 2000 and 2008 with a mixture of incredulity and amusement. How could tens of thousands of people have donated their knowledge to Wikipedia or the blogosphere for free? What was it about the Internet that made so many of us irrational about our economic value? It was a "mania," these mid-21st-century historians will explain, like the Dutch Tulip mania of the 1630s or South Sea Bubble of 1720 -- a mania that ended with the great crash of October 2008.

Open source will do just fine, in fact it will provide the infrastructure for whatever the next boom turns out to be, as it drove the current one (all those web 2.0 apps aren't running in ASP.net and IIS). I think the most pressure is on things that are large-scale, proprietary with dubious income streams. Twitter and Second Life would be prime examples. In particular, I would think paying for the (energy to run the) servers behind Second Life is going to get tougher.

1 comment:

Sylvia said...

Andrew Keen is conflating "Web 2.0" and "free", and I suppose since it's not his area of expertise, I can forgive him a little.

But he's completely missed the boat on the impulse to work for free on something you love. It's not just rich people who spend hours on Wikipedia. It's not just people who think that their open source graphics converter is going to make them a bundle someday.

It's people who might otherwise have spent ridiculous amounts of time and money on a model train set, building a boat in a bottle, or some other hobby. There are tons of people who knit, even if you can buy a scarf cheaper at Target. It doesn't always make sense, but it does "fill your belly" and it does "warm you up".

People aren't driven entirely by economics, or even the expectation of making money. Sometimes people just love things and will spend seemingly unreasonable amounts of time on these pursuits.