Thursday, January 17, 2008

How long can the Freesphere survive?

Following up my post on the curse of the free, Alex Isgold of the Read Write Web blog raises similar concerns.

Alex's points are quite right and I agree with most of them, where I disagree is that teens are to blame for this; this is a far deeper, more entrenched mentality that goes back to the roots of the PC and the homebrew hobbyists.

The comments in reply to Alex's post are instructive for the mentality they reveal, the bulk of comments are on the side that all is free and all is good. These show the how deep this belief is.

One comment that sprung out to me though was Hank Williams' comment about this actually being an intellectual property issue. While I think it's bigger than this, he has a very good point that people are ignoring or just have contempt for intellectual property.

Personally I think the IP system is broken and in disrepute. This is largely the fault of the incompetence of the US Patents Office and large corporations abusing legal process. It's part of the picture, but not the whole story.

Regardless of what is the cause, the fact is everybody needs to paid for at least some of their work and that is ultimately why the Freesphere cannot survive.

1 comment:

Iain said...

Yes everyone wants something for nothing - I know I'm a heritage consultant most people would like to think we provide our professional advice for free as a kind of hobby.

But of course all good consultants know that you give all little free in order to make your sale. I imagine that much of the free stuff is out there so that advertisers and marketers can find active email addresses so that they can sell to us.

Some of the "free" software comes with better, more functional commercial versions (e.g Sketchup) so you can get lured in. I seem to remember MS did this with Access many years ago (when we were using DBase).

Then there seems to be software that is free because the owners are doing this as hobbys or research projects; Zotero or Spybot might be examples of this.

Nothing is truly free in this world