Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Think Like a Dandelion

Cory Doctorow uses reproductive strategies of mammals and dandelions to make a point about how information and influence are distrbuted in the virtual world. Mammals generally exercise much more control over their offspring than do dandelions. Obviously most mammals wouldn't survive if they adopted the dandelion approach, but the point is our own Internet creations are not the same as our physical offspring.

Still the unresolved question remains, "How do you earn a living if you give away your creations?" I don't have the ultimate solution, but it seems to me the wider your sphere of influence the greater your opportunity to translate what you do into cash flow of some sort.

Nine Inch Nails made its last two creative efforts available for free over the Internet. It's album The Slip is not only available for free, but the group also encourages people to share it, use it and change it. I would never have purchased a NIN CD at the store, and I probably would not have purchased its music over the Internet, but I know the group now and I'm more likely to complete a money transaction in the future. So, has the increased exposure offset the lost revenue from selling music through traditional formats? I don't know. Has it increased the groups sphere of influence? I think so.
The Internet is still relatively new; most people and businesses try to force the ways of commerce from the past on to this new and really uncharted medium. I believe we are on the threshold of significant changes in the way we interact and conduct business on the Internet.

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