Friday, June 6, 2008

Old Brazilian Joke and Free Digital Content: Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman wraps some interesting commentary around an old Brazilian joke.

First, the commentary regarding innovation, Amazon Kindle, free digital content and the Grateful Dead:
The predictions of ’90s technology gurus are coming true more slowly than enthusiasts expected — but the future they envisioned is still on the march.

In 1994, one of those gurus, Esther Dyson, made a striking prediction: that the ease with which digital content can be copied and disseminated would eventually force businesses to sell the results of creative activity cheaply, or even give it away. Whatever the product — software, books, music, movies — the cost of creation would have to be recouped indirectly: businesses would have to “distribute intellectual property free in order to sell services and relationships.”

For example, she described how some software companies gave their product away but earned fees for installation and servicing. But her most compelling illustration of how you can make money by giving stuff away was that of the Grateful Dead, who encouraged people to tape live performances because “enough of the people who copy and listen to Grateful Dead tapes end up paying for hats, T-shirts and performance tickets. In the new era, the ancillary market is the market.”
The joke:
“Brazil is the country of the future — and always will be.”

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