Anderson and “Free”

futurelab default header

by: C. Sven Johnson

Two or three weeks ago, after a rather long absence, I surfed aimlessly over to Chris “Long Tail” Anderson’s blog.
As someone who was contemplating the same “Long Tail” potentials in the
early part of the decade (and who shot emails containing a link to the original Wired article
out to former co-workers exclaiming, “This is what I was talking about.
Read this!”), I got tired of the repetitive entries being posted around
the time his book was published and drifted away.

My return happened to be excellent timing, because Anderson has
begun to discuss something else: the world of “free”. And it’s
something that’s embedded in much of what I’ve been working on behind
the scenes and which has impacted some of my thinking regarding the
future of product design and virtual worlds*. So once again, I get to
exclaim to some friends and business associates, “This is what I’m
talking about.” But what’s cool is that this time I get to say “Watch this (Link).”

It’s a rather long video, so to whet some appetites, here are some notes I twittered as I was watching it:

  • At about 15:00 he starts talking 3D-printing.
  • How “complexity” of shape is free. (Industrial Designers, Product Engineers and Tooling people know what he means.)
  • “tools to navigate that choice” (reminded me of the New World Notes interview I gave – Link – where I explaining the ecoToroid model’s two possible futures:

    “Well, the future could be that everything gets equal
    exposure (more or less) because everyone is empowered to advertise. And
    when manufacturing is obsolete, and everything is ‘printed’,
    distribution is as simple as printing the object on your desktop. So
    does it look like the top grey? Or like the top blue? I’m beginning to
    think both are possible. As people develop systems for finding the
    things they really want**, then ‘Obscurity’ really is relegated to
    things people really just don’t want… I’m thinking that Finding the
    items easily will happen after we’re in a position to deliver them. So
    we’ll start off with so much junk we can’t find anything. Then we’ll
    figure out ways to really wade through it.”

  • People will X for free. “Because their incentives are not monetary,
    they’re reputation, they’re expression; they’re attention.” (30:00)
  • “The new scarcities are Time, Money, and Attention and Reputation.” (30:32)
  • Anderson is using Second Life as an example. (~36:00)
  • Thanks to Core77 blogger Mark Vanderbeeken, who maintains the Experientia “Putting People First” blog (Link),
    for bringing the video to my attention (because I’ve still not gotten
    into the habit of regularly surfing over to Anderson’s blog).

    * Quick side note: I saw a video demo of a Chinese virtual world a
    few weeks ago that opened my thinking to something which I’ll
    eventually blog. As it turns out, Anderson has a current blog entry
    titled “China: the future of free?” (Link) that would be worth reviewing in the meantime. He’s talking music here, but it’s still relevant.

    ** Another quick note: I’ve been debating for a while whether or not I should write about this issue, “systems for finding the things“.
    Whether or not I eventually post something, I at least want to say that
    this is significant and I’d suggest readers give it some thought.

    via Core77

    Original Post: