Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert and an ace blogger, talks about thecomplications of giving away stuff for free on the internet. Likeblogging. Giving Stuff Away Free on the internet is more complicatedthan you think, he says. When he starts putting up the books that are no longer selling on the internet for free, then he gets the twenty-four hour a day irate bloggers yelling at him for daring to charge for his next book. But, wait, this is someone who makes a living by his cartoons and his writing. You mean he's supposed to donate his livelihood so we can all have free access? I'm missing something here.
The url, for Wall Street Journal Online Subscribers, is Http://online.wsj.com/public/article_print/SB119388143439778613.html. The article is NOT free as the WSJ is a subscription only online newspaper. Some people think, in fact, that it would be doing a lot better right now if it were free as it would gain in advertising revenue what it is losing in declining global market share. But for the creator of Dilbert, as this article makes clear, making his labor available for free is not quite as utopic as "information is free" would like it to be.
I hate to keep sounding like a broken record but, yes, we are in a transitional moment and we MUST find a way where it is not incumbent on those at the bottom of the commercial heap--writers, artists, indy musicians, scholars, researchers, nonprofit university press publishers, nonprofit small literary and arts publishers, etc--to be creating, for free, the "free access/information is free" content that offers the profits for others. USG really is not a good method when you are an artist trying to live by the content you generate . . . and someone else is making a pile of cash on that content.
Come on, smart people! We have to be able to figure this out. Right, Dilbert?
[Special thanks to photographer "Ol.v!.er" for making his hilarious series of Dilbert photographs availabile on Flickr under Creative Commons licensing. Not entirely unproblematic either, but, as I said, we are in a transitional moment.]