Ian Singleton

Free (part one)

Posted in Uncategorized by iansingleton on December 14, 2009


Back in the summer, Chris Anderson visited Bristol to talk about his new book, Free. I bought a pre-publication copy and what follows is my summary of the book. I posted this elsewhere to start with but wanted to bring it over here because this book is one of the most important bits of thinking about digital content that there is.

This is not a review – for that, go here. For Malcolm Gladwell’s slating of Free, go here

My opinion is that this is an important book because of its subject but does only half its job. It belies its journalistic origins and its argument runs out of coherence. The last forty of the 240 pages feel disjointed. This is what it says..

C21st Free different from C20th Free.

Latter about giving away products as short-term promotional gimmicks – Jell-O recipe books, Gillette razors – to encourage sales of underlying product – jelly, razor blades.

C21st Free – consequence of two laws – Moore’s law in processing, storage & bandwidth; 1883 French mathematician Joseph Bertrand came up with Bertrand’s Competition Law – In a competitive market, price falls to the marginal cost. Online where information is a commodity and goods and services can be easily copied, this law plays out to ultimate extent.

Moore’s Law coined for processing. Also applies to storage & bandwidth. And it’s processing which develops the slowest. Gordon Moore didn’t coin the law. It was the work of Caltech professor Carver Mead.

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