Words in Boxes

Nouns, verbs, and occasionally adjectives.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Future of Free

 From if:book:

The point I wanted to make was that the model of content production championed by Keen is historically-specific and relies on an economic context where printed matter is common enough to be marketed to the general public, but still scarce enough to enable writers to make a living from selling units of content to their audiences.

I've been gnawing for some time at the question of what happens to creative writers – or artists in general – in a world where success of content is based not on its scarcity (the 'high art' model) but on ubiquity and infinite reproducibility. If copyright no longer exists, how can (already often cash-strapped) independent arts workers sell their work? And what will they do if they can't?

Good question.  Back when I was still considering the possibility of trying to earn a living through writing, the mere existence of blogs was incredibly discouraging.  With so much quality writing available for free, why should anyone pay for it? 

Now many of the bloggers that I respect (and their dogs) have book deals, I feel like some sense of order has been restored to the universe.  But I do still wonder about the future of paid content, especially in light of the New York Times announcing that they're abandoning their paid Times Select service and making everything free.  Will all writers be part-time writers?

I'm James Sulak, a software developer in Houston, Texas.

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