What utter wank.
Chris Anderson persists in marketing a book, Free (£8.54 from amazon.co.uk) whose relevance failed at about the same time as the international credit markets.
Among other things, Anderson is known for his book, The Long Tail, which at least has the virtue of being based on an observable mathematical phenomenon – that the less popular a product was, the fewer people bought it and vice versa – ground-breaking stuff.
Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point and Blink, a book devoted to how humans have an uncanny gift for quickly sniffing out bullshit, says here that Anderson’s argument is full of holes.
Seth Godin (I haven’t read any of his books – his post is unlikely to change that) and Anderson (in this uber-patronising smugfest) would be a lot easier to take seriously if they addressed some of the questions in Gladwell’s critique rather than giving us one more high school-pitched lesson in economics and marginal cost and an extrapolation as to how it applies to newspapers.
Such as – why YouTube, free darling of the Web 2.0 movement, and case study in Anderson’s book, has yet to make a red cent in profit. Why Amazon’s Kindle 30-70 profit-sharing/copyright deal with the Dallas Morning News is fucked – if the marginal cost of an extra copy is “close enough to nil as can be rounded down”, shouldn’t the deal be a bit more equitable? That the eerily reminiscent Lewis Strauss’s “too cheap to meter” claims failed to materialise and why.
Gladwell excuses Anderson as a “technological utopian” in his misunderstanding of the costs behind running any network. I think he is being too kind – at best Anderson is an after-dinner speaker and new media consultant for whom the book, Free, serves as a business card.
I think I will wait until, like any such advertisement, Anderson’s book reaches the price of its title before reading – it shouldn’t take too long.
And can somebody please call the cops or social services or whoever and free those poor guys trapped in Anderson’s basement cranking out GeekDad posts for Wired?