A Draft from 2/29/08:
Free of Common Sense
I like Chris Anderson. His "long tail" idea makes sense and is manifestly real. It only benefits the aggregators, not necessarily the independent content producer, but that's been true since the dawn of time. At the very least, he's managed to form an easy to comprehend description of how one segment of the free market works.
But this new idea is just crazy talk: "Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business"
This is insane. Why not give away cars, and charge $15 a gallon for gas? There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. The loss of profit in one area is made up in other areas. Like a supermarket that slashes prices on milk but raises the price of eggs. Like me. I got a fancy razor in the mail for 'free'. If I want to continue using it, I have to pay $15 for a pack of disposable blades.
He says "But Friedman was wrong in two ways. First, a free lunch doesn't necessarily mean the food is being given away or that you'll pay for it later — it could just mean someone else is picking up the tab." That's not free! Someone is picking up the tab.
"Second, in the digital realm, as we've seen, the main feedstocks of the information economy — storage, processing power, and bandwidth — are getting cheaper by the day." Cheap. Not free.
He should maybe spend a little more time reading the late Milton Friedman, and less time assuming Milty's wrong simply because he's old school.