The ever provocative Kevin Kelly writing at Edge.org. Basically, if wealth used to be built on selling precious copies, what do we sell when everything that’s copyable is now potentially free?

I have an answer. The simplest way I can put it is thus: When copies are super abundant, they become worthless. When copies are super abundant, stuff which can’t be copied becomes scarce and valuable. When copies are free, you need to sell things which can not be copied.

And what might those be? Kelly offers “Eight Generative Values,” qualities or attributes that must be generated, grown, cultivated, and nurtured. And they are:

  • Immediacy–getting something as soon as it is produced.
  • Personalization–”Aspirin is free, but aspirin tailored to your DNA is very expensive.”
  • Interpretation–as in paid support for free software.
  • Authenticity–as in paying for signed artworks.
  • Accessibility–as in paying for someone to backup all of your stuff.
  • Embodiment–actually paying to see a live performance of free music.
  • Patronage–the connections between artists and fans
  • Findability–(sounds familiar) works (or knowledge) has no value unless it is seen. “Being found is valuable.”

Finally, while I’m still wrapping my brain around those ideas, I totally agree with this:

These eight qualities require a new skill set. Success in the free-copy world is not derived from the skills of distribution since the Great Copy Machine in the Sky takes care of that. Nor are legal skills surrounding Intellectual Property and Copyright very useful anymore. Nor are the skills of hoarding and scarcity. Rather, these new eight generatives demand an understanding of how abundance breeds a sharing mindset, how generosity is a business model, how vital it has become to cultivate and nurture qualities that can’t be replicated with a click of the mouse. [Emphasis mine.]

Reminds me a lot of Lessig

If you want to get another Kelly fix, try Scan This Book in the New York Times last year. A little over the top, but still an interesting read.

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