Posts Tagged ‘culture of free’

The Internet’s Destiny: Five Truths

February 23, 2009

I’m honored that yesterday, Louis Gray – an extremely prolific and well respected social media observer and commentator – named Dawn’s Plan as one of his “five new blogs to watch.”  Since I’m getting new readers here because of it (Thank you, Louis), I thought I’d state my basic beliefs that inform everything I write about here.

 1) Business Models must be Distributive

The Digital Age is inherently about undoing the most egregious economic imbalances created by the Industrial Age, not creating more of them.  There is little difference between getting obscenely rich off the backs of others and getting obscenely rich off the brains and hearts of others. 

To his credit, Mark Zuckerberg recognized the value of each person’s social graph.  To his failure, he has yet to acknowledge that your social graph belongs to you and you should be compensated for its use.

Zuckerberg is a billionaire on paper while the Facebook membership that makes the network valuable earns nothing.  I predict Zuckerberg’s paper wealth will never be realized, because obscene concentration of wealth generated by exploiting others goes against what the Internet is naturally meant to be.

2) Advertising Distribution must be in the Hands of Users

Except for Search, Internet advertising doesn’t work.  It will never work when it is thrust upon us, because it is kneejerk to despise and easy to ignore.  Online advertising must be willingly accepted to be effective.  This demands taking ad distribution control away from advertisers and giving it to consumers.

Closed ad networks that pollute the Internet and do little to help the advertisers themselves will inevitably be replaced by open networks which offer ads that may be taken by users and placed on their own pages – if it is a product or service they wish to help promote.  This power shift will make corporations more accountable and will lead to higher quality ads and products.  Also, people will be less fearful of buying when they have recommendations from friends, family and coworkers. 

Placing ad distribution in the proper hands will thereby help our economy rebuild from the bottom up, as trust is injected back into the system and people start consuming again.  So by giving up power to distribute ads online, companies will gain.  At least the ones that are worthy will.   The others can die a quicker death and quit wasting resources that can be freed for better concerns.

3) Free must be replaced by Free plus Compensated

Free has been a collective disaster.  We obviously cannot move from an industrial economy to a digital economy (which we must do to survive) if there can be no transfer of digital goods and services for money.  That’s what an economy is.

4) Everybody must have a Place at the Digital Table, despite their Talents and Geography

Let’s face it, when it comes to making a living, the Internet has so far mostly benefitted left-brained people and has too often devastated right-brain people.  While geeks’ opportunities and incomes have exploded, creators like reporters, photographers, cartoonists and other writers and artists have lost their jobs and incomes.2008-05-01

Trade in digital goods and services holds the promise of allowing great numbers of people all over the world to make a living without raping the environment, but this can happen only if doors are opened to allow in all skills and talents, not just coding ability.

5) Google’s Domination is Unhealthy and Potentially Treacherous

Yeah, I don’t like Google.  Their hegemony rivals that of ancient Rome.  The good news is that Google is much more vulnerable than people think.  Their lion’s share of online ad revenue won’t last once the above four tenets are inevitably manifested.  The only unknown is exactly how long it will take.

If you want more details about any of these, I suggest you check out my archive.  You can also subscribe to my feed.

I hope you will stick around and give me your input.  I appreciate your comments and welcome discussion about how best to spur the Internet towards its natural destiny, for everybody’s benefit.

It Makes Money to Take Money

January 13, 2009


I’ve been warning for years that the “free” Internet is a collective disaster.  If you want some explanation of that, watch my video.  (Sorry for the diction…I was being treated for cancer at the time and my tongue was fat and lazy.)

It amazes me how many perfectly well-meaning, intelligent people believe that society is better off when all news, information, entertainment and visual arts can be consumed without charge.  Yet, if you asked those same people if it would be good for society if grocery stores gave away all their food for free, at least most of them would understand that the answer is no.

Of course, “free” never really meant free; it means “let somebody else pay.”  Let the investors pay.  Let the advertisers pay.  Let the guy who wants a t-shirt pay.  And don’t forget the girl who is embarrassed by the donation pleas from starving artists who will pay.   The rest of us can happily ignore any responsibility to cough up without shame.  After all, free is righteous.  We’re not bums, we’re enlightened.  Or so the argument has gone for years.

But now, our economy is in the pits, VCs are closing their pockets, advertisers are falling away, and donations are less likely than ever.  So what will this mean for the Internet?

It means the free lunch is over.

A paradigm shift is coming.  Free will be replaced by direct payment models.  Look for the best websites to start charging admission and subscription fees.  Micropayments will finally be made workable.  User-generated content will no longer be happily provided to make other people rich.

Many people will kick and scream during the transition, but ultimately, everybody will be much better off.  The Internet will flourish both economically and culturally as more talents get compensated and creativity finally explodes to everyone’s delight and prosperity.

In a few years time, the Internet culture that is today dominated by defenders of free will be thriving beyond recognition thanks to those who understand during this recession that it makes money to take money – and especially to those who are brave enough to act accordingly.

Editorial Cartoonists – A Great Example of a Wasted Resource

December 10, 2008

duffy-full-page-cartoon1

I lifted this cartoon from my friend Alan Gardner’s blog, The Daily Cartoonist, who relayed it from Politicker.com.  It’s a shot back against a newspaper that brusquely fired their editorial cartoonist after 25 years of service.  Here’s the background story.

I laughed out loud at the depiction of his old employer’s building (and thus the newspaper itself) close to falling to ruin.  And the sentiment that this artist, Brian Duffy –respected by his peers and beloved by his readers – has chosen to view his termination as a bright new beginning is inspiring. 

However, the sad reality is that as he walks off into the sunrise, as so many local editorial cartoonists have been forced to before him, there are few places for him to go.  The collapsing market for local editorial cartoons has not been replaced.  While Duffy is extremely talented and I have no doubts about his ability to create paying gigs for himself, unless something forces change, he will likely never again be a local editorial cartoonist.  At least not fulltime.   

The absurdity of this situation is that while there is not a good market for local editorial cartoons, demand for them by readers has never faltered.  So what’s standing in the way?  As I’ve been arguing for years, the villain is the Internet’s culture of free.

We now have the technology to shift that culture from free to “free plus compensated.”  If you haven’t seen my video which explains all of this, I’ll post it here again.  You’ll have to excuse my delivery…my thyroid cancer treatment these last several weeks has left me feeling like it’s two hours past my bedtime 24 hours a day.  Unfortunately, you can tell that even my mouth feels tired as my tongue is sluggish.  I apologize for that.  Still, I think you’ll get most of what I’m saying if you take the 9 minutes to watch it all.  That’s a major time commitment these days, so I’ll thank you in advance.

As I explain in this video, cartoonists were once treated as economic heroes.  Now they are being discarded like trash.  That’s not only sad, it’s tremendously stupid.  Cartoonists could be generating wealth for a lot of different people, if their skills were being utilized properly. 

The good news is, when I started this blog just ten days ago to attract resources to my plan, I was in need of $250,000.  I already have $50,000 of that now.  Twenty percent is a good start.  If you have a blog, please help me spread the word about Swig by directing people to this blog, as the swig.me site still isn’t finished…oh well, we can only do what we can do.  By the New Year, these months of surgery and treatments will be history, my cancer will be gone, the holiday slowdown will be over and Swig and me both can get our butts moving. J

Here’s the other side of the coin.  If we save print newspapers, editorial cartoonists can come get back to work in print, as well.  Hey, at least this video is shorter. 😉