I dug out this blog entry that originally got deleted as I was writing it >.< It is quite overdue but I think it is worth posting:
Chris Anderson’s article was a delight to read since I am observing and participating in the trend he is talking about. What I found particularly interesting is the idea of the “hit” and what creates it. I like the idea of the entertainment industry being more about the “misses” than the “hits” and I agree that some people assume that if something is not a hit, it doesn’t deserve to exist. I feel like it is fascinating then that online shopping allows users to select from a huge pool of choices, rather than the limited, “just-the-hits” one. I like the question he poses about what we really like. Sometimes, ‘likes’ can be imposed on us, we are deceived into believing we like something just because it is popular. Recommendations and ratings then come in handy for people so that they can get acquainted with a diversity of different types of songs or movies that are not necessarily hits. Where the problem for me comes is when Anderson talks about having one song cost more than another. I feel like the popularity issue comes right back when pricing is different. Who decides what song costs what? When people see a song that costs more, they might tend to buy it since they might be convinced that it is more popular and consequently, better. I got even more confused when Anderson later suggests that, instead of having separate prices for songs, there should just be a general monthly fee exchanged for unlimited download. I feel like this is a downgrade back to the whole CD business. What if I just want to buy one song? How do providers divide their profits amongst the artists? Also, what happened to recommendations? They seem to matter less if the emphasis is on price rather than songs.
When it comes to Benkler, I thought it was particularly interesting that the developers of Kazaa (the illegal music download provider) are also the producers of Skype. It got me thinking about where the boundary stands between free and illegal. Who determines what’s free and what isn’t? Sometimes, I wonder how incredible it is that Skype is free and you can make unlimited VIDEO calls to anyone in the world yet telephone companies charge you for a regular landline connection. Skype as a software is not open for user editing, it comes in a generic form and users cannot modify it in any significant way (at least not function-wise). I understand how Linux and Wikipedia could be free since they are available for free and anyone can edit their content. Since the content cannot be guaranteed to be 100% reliable or accurate, no charge could be imposed. Therefore, there is the advantage of sharing and exchange of information and expertiese. What remains for me to find out is the motivation behind working on free software and the ways some people actually get profit from it.