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The End of Free

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the barbed-wire-and-stockade-fences dept.

The Almighty Buck 348

The Atlantic has up an insightful piece from its print edition called Closing the Digital Frontier. Michael Hirschorn takes readers through a jaundiced version of the familiar story of the rise and dominance of the "Information wants to be free" meme, then claims that the era of freedom is now over. "...the phrase Information wants to be free... became perhaps the most powerful meme of the past quarter century; so powerful, in fact, that multibillion-dollar corporations destroyed their own businesses at its altar. ... But now, it seems, things are changing all over again. The shift of the digital frontier from the Web, where the browser ruled supreme, to the smart phone, where the app and the pricing plan now hold sway, signals a radical shift from openness to a degree of closed-ness that would have been remarkable even before 1995. ... It’s far from a given that this shift will generate the kinds of revenue media companies are used to: for under-30s whelped on free content, the prospect of paying hundreds or thousands of dollars yearly for print, audio, and video (on expensive new devices that require paying AT&T $30 a month) is not going to be an easy sell. Yet lack of uptake by young people will hardly stop the rush to apps. There’s too much potential upside."

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I Disagree with Some Parts of This Article (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873220)

I found it interesting that the piece went to such great lengths to talk about the original spirit of openness on the internet yet then says:

The open-source mentality, in theory if not always in practice, proved useful for the tech and Internet worlds. Facebook and Twitter achieved massive scale quickly by creating an open system accessible to outside developers, though that openness is at times more about branding than anything else—as Twitter’s fellow travelers are now finding out.

As Diaspora and a number of other projects are illustrating, Facebook is far from openness. The API, in my opinion, is little more than a glimpse of what actually goes on inside the behemoth that knows all.

This article seems to be spot on at times and just completely at odds with how I see things at others like:

Even so, Google still needs for the Web, however it’s accessed, to remain central—because without contextual search advertising, Google ceases to matter. Smart phones in general, and the iPad more pointedly, are not driven by search.

(emphasis mine) How incredibly shortsighted. During the World Cup game yesterday, I used my smart phone to search for no less than five pieces of information. And what are iAds? Nothing more than a contextual advertising model based on what you've downloaded as I see it. Sounds awfully similar to Google's model.

Now, instead of farmers versus ranchers, we have Apple versus Google. In retrospect, for all the talk of an unencumbered sphere, of a unified planetary soul, the colonization and exploitation of the Web was a foregone conclusion. The only question now is who will own it.

That's not the only question, it's merely the most monetarily important. I can think of tons of questions to go with your analogy. Who are the Native Americans now? Will one "owner" arise or can multiple coexist like the farmers and ranchers? How much will the government intervene and when? After this is all hashed out will there ever be peace? When it's all said and done, what's the next frontier that will be fought over for profit or will there ever be another one?

More corporate BS (5, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873562)

Disclaimer: I havent RTFA yet, and sometimes the summaries don't accurately reflact their FAs. But from the summary, TFA seems particularly clueless. First, "Information wants to be free" is IMO clueless in itself. Information doesn't want to be free any more than your doorknob wants to be free. You could as easily say "Information wants to be paid for". But when information isn't free, neither are you.

Second, "The shift of the digital frontier from the Web, where the browser ruled supreme, to the smart phone, where the app and the pricing plan now hold sway" is just as clueless. The internet is the internet, whether you're accessing it from your phone or your PC. Few have 4G smartphones. Mine isn't 4G, but it will access the internet, and guess what? There are tons of free apps for it. And an iPhone is 4G, but 4G isn't iPhone any more than a four legged animal is a dog. Apple has always been a walled garden, and that's how Apple customers like it. But most of us aren't Apple customers.

It's far from a given that this shift will generate the kinds of revenue media companies are used to

Who gives two shits whether or not media companies get revenue? I don't, and neither should anyone not invested in media company stock. I'm sick of the corporate whores and the corporate media they own turning the world into a bunch of money worshiping greedheads who believe "free=worthless". The best things in life are free: Sunsets, air, rain, FOSS, indie music, walking hand in hand with your S.O., playing catch with your grandchild, etc. Nothing you can buy holds a candle to any of these. Windows is far inferior to Linux, which isn't only free as in beer but gives one true computing freedom.

And I find it fascinating that the corporate media usually refuses to even mention FOSS. We nerds are the only ones who know about Linux; when I mention to normal people that they can replace Windows with an OS that costs nothing and is free from viruses, and there is an office suite that is likewise free, and free media playes that are superior to WiMP, they're astounded.

Now to a response to your comment about "The only question now is who will own" the web, personally I think the question is ludicrously meaningless, not important. Nobody owns it, and nobody will. It's free.

I look forward to free internet access for all, free of corporate robber barons and gatekeeprs, a mesh network where everyone opens up access to everyone else. It's doable and should be done, and I think we here at slashdot are the ones to start it. As to "the government", which government? It's a world wide web, not an American corporate web.

Re:More corporate BS (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32873708)

And an iPhone is 4G

That would be the iPhone 5?

The iPhone 4 got the nickname "4G" before anyone knew the specs, because of speculations that it would be 4G. However, the actual phone - rather than speculations - is named iPhone 4, because it's the 4th generation of the iPhone, even though it's only 3G.

Re:More corporate BS (5, Informative)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873784)

First, "Information wants to be free" is IMO clueless in itself.

No, you're the one who is clueless -- about what that famous phrase [wikipedia.org] actually means.

Re:More corporate BS (3, Interesting)

aurispector (530273) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873920)

You're mostly spot on. "information wants to be free" has always been idiotic without concise definitions of "information" and "free". Copyrighted materials will always have strings attached; the question is whether the holder of the strings can figure a way to cash in. Let's face it - people usually put genuine valuable labor into things they copyright. That's why they want to sell it. Information like "Spain won the world cup" is also valuable but it isn't copyrightable. This is the kind of thing people want to find out over a relatively free internet. The term "relatively" applies because people are generally paying for access via direct ISP fees or phone contracts or perhaps advertising supported access. The point is the internet was never free. Students pay for access via tuition, libraries offer "free" access supported by local tax dollars. SOMEBODY has to pay for the infrastructure, just like somebody had to pay for studio time to produce a song or movie or whatever. There's no such thing as a free lunch and the best we can hope for is an advertising supported model that will cost you some eyeball time as they force you to watch commercials.

It's also stupid to talk about the internet as a single entity when it's a vast collection of entities. People do own or control parts of it but even so, if you want to monetize it you have to have something worth paying for and some way to persuade people to pay for it. Ad support again? Depends on what you're selling. Google gained success by realizing that you can't own it all but you can provide the ability to find it, but it's all supported by ad revenue, too.

"Free internet access for all" ignores the fact that it cost money to provide access and more money to create content. The real question is how will the content providers - news organizations, movie studios, musicians, etc., get paid. Otherwise all you're talking about is leaving the door open to an empty house.

Re:More corporate BS (-1, Troll)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#32874042)

>>>Second, "The shift of the digital frontier from the Web, where the browser ruled supreme, to the smart phone, where the app and the pricing plan now hold sway" is just as clueless. The internet is the internet, whether you're accessing it from your phone or your PC.
>>>

Unless you live somewhere, like rural Maryland, and have no other way to access the internet except via an expensive ~$100/month cellular plan. That's the path corporations leading us down. Or more correctly: The US FCC is leading us down that path.

Re:More corporate BS (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32874068)

Windows is far inferior to Linux, which isn't only free as in beer but gives one true computing freedom.

You had my attention up until that sentence.

Re:I Disagree with Some Parts of This Article (2, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873732)

I don't disagree. I've been saying for a couple days now that Free TV is dying, to be replaced by a pay-to-see model. And now this guy comes out with this:

>>>from the Web, where the browser ruled supreme, to the smart phone, where the app and the pricing plan now hold sway, signals a radical shift from openness to a degree of closed-ness that would have been remarkable even before 1995.
>>>

The corporations are leading us down a path towards $1000-to-2000 per year bills just so we can see the latest episode of Stargate, or hear the news, or get a warning about severe weather. What was once free, they are locking-up behind paywalls and ye are cheering it along as technological "advancement" when it's actually the opposite.

Re:I Disagree with Some Parts of This Article (5, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873908)

I don't disagree. I've been saying for a couple days now that Free TV is dying, to be replaced by a pay-to-see model. And now this guy comes out with this:

Free TV is not dead. Get a $20 antenna, and you can get nice 1920x1080 HD TV off the air for *gasp* free.

People who don;t remember history are doomed to repeat it.

Back in the previous century, people were claiming that the Internet would have to go to a paid-content model because there was no way that it could remain free. It's still mostly free, because any time that someone tries to erect a pay-wall, someone else says "here's my chance to take away their customers."

What would happen tomorrow if 99% of all web sites went to a paywall? The 1% that didn't would replace them as THE top sites within a day.

It's the same thing with anything else, including mobile apps. The free ones are often better than the paid ones, and the price is right.

The article is wishful thinking ... just like Kevin McBride, when he says [slushdot.com]

Software should not be "free." In this new day and age of corporate control of the world, IP rights are an important barrier of protection that help the little guy. Big companies mostly don't need IP rights, because they can get their way through force and market power. Small companies and individual developers need strong IP rights so the fruits of their labor are not commoditized by big companies. ...

ChinAmerica - part 2

Guess who now has the second-most IP addresses in the world? China. And they have more people with cell phones than the entire US population - and that number is increasing. Put up too many pay-walls, and China and India, which together have more than 1/3 the worlds' population, will p0wn your ass!

Don't think it can happen? GM already sells more cars in China than in the US.

No uptake from young people? (5, Insightful)

Vectormatic (1759674) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873254)

"Yet lack of uptake by young people will hardly stop the rush to apps. There’s too much potential upside."

Eh? I thought the entire drive behind the iphone and the appstore is young people... without them apple wouldnt be making money hand over fist, and not everyone and their grandma would be building apps to 'get rich quick'TM

If young people didnt care about apps, no one would make them, since there wouldnt be any benefit to doing so at all.

Claimed On Paid Apps, Paid Content (3, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873290)

Eh? I thought the entire drive behind the iphone and the appstore is young people... without them apple wouldnt be making money hand over fist, and not everyone and their grandma would be building apps to 'get rich quick'TM

If young people didnt care about apps, no one would make them, since there wouldnt be any benefit to doing so at all.

You must have just skimmed the paragraph preceding your quote. The author says

They are operating on the largely correct assumption that people will be more likely to pay for consumer-friendly apps via the iPad, and a multitude of competing devices due out this year, than they are to subscribe to the same old kludgy Web site they have been using freely for years.

The author is making the distinct assumption that anyone under 30 years of age enjoyed or enjoys free content and therefore sees no reason to use Netflix or pay for an iPhone app. I don't know what the actual numbers are and I wish the author had included a lot more citations but the assumption is that young people pay less for applications in the mobile environment. I think that's a safe assumption just based on how much income they usually have compared to people over 30. The other assumption is that once young people enjoy free media via filesharing, they are unwilling to pay for that content via Netflix, Amazon or iTunes. I don't think that's universally true although there may be a small percentage that hold that mentality -- whether it be through an idealism or just lack of money to spend.

Re:Claimed On Paid Apps, Paid Content (2, Interesting)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873636)

I think that's a safe assumption just based on how much income they usually have compared to people over 30.

But they often have a larger Discretionary income.

Re:No uptake from young people? (1)

alen (225700) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873426)

apple is making money off young people, not the media. the print/TV media let their advertising models get destroyed and now cry poverty

Not end to anything, rather, start of rapid change (1)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873262)

> But now, it seems, things are changing all over again. ...

If anything, the quoted material in the summary just emphasizes what we all probably understand (except, perhaps, for the youngest among us): that the rhythm of change is beating faster and faster as time goes on.

> Yet lack of uptake by young people will hardly stop the rush to apps.

And so, it seems that there will be yet another change --- when those young people become older.

This isn't the end of anything, especially of "free", rather, it's the start of ever more rapid changes.

(and yes, I didn't read TFA)...

Re:Not end to anything, rather, start of rapid cha (2, Informative)

gambino21 (809810) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873954)

the rhythm of change is beating faster and faster as time goes on.

Alvin Toffler wrote about this in 1970 in his book Future Shock [wikipedia.org] . Technology is advancing at a faster and faster rate, and his prediction is that at some point technology will be changing faster than many people can adapt. This will have an effect similar to culture shock where the technology around these people has changed so much that they are not able to function normally in society.

How Quickly They Forget (4, Interesting)

sunspot42 (455706) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873266)

expensive new devices that require paying AT&T $30 a month

Wait, $30 a month for Internet service on a $300 phone or $600 tablet? Yeah, that's real steep, as opposed to, say, $30 a month for AOL on a $1,500 Windows 95 PC a decade or so ago.

The devices are actually a heck of a lot cheaper now than they were when the Internet took off. They're more capable and easier to use, too. Access is no more expensive, and it's wireless. Look for the cost - of both the devices and bandwidth - to continue to decline over time. This will help users to afford quite a bit of content, in the same way folks who cancel their cable TV can afford a Netflix subscription and a substantial number of downloads from iTunes or Amazon and still end up money ahead (and see exactly what they want to see when they want to see it).

Re:How Quickly They Forget (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32873298)

$30 a month for AOL

On the contrary, I quite clearly remember paying $20/month for unlimited dialup in the mid 90s. That was AT&T and Earthlink. I believe AOL was about the same.

Also, $30 may be your monthly data charge, but AT&T really forces you to pay something like $60/month as a minimum for iPhone service. That's far from a trivial cost for the vast majority of people.

Re:How Quickly They Forget (4, Insightful)

sunspot42 (455706) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873496)

I quite clearly remember paying $20/month for unlimited dialup in the mid 90s

With inflation, $20 in 1995 would be around $28 today, which is comparable to the $30 a month data charge for a smartphone. And of course, even today's wireless access is generally faster than dialup was in the mid 1990's.

Also, $30 may be your monthly data charge, but AT&T really forces you to pay something like $60/month as a minimum for iPhone service. That's far from a trivial cost for the vast majority of people.

Yes. And in the mid 1990's, you had to have telephone service in order to take advantage of dialup internet providers like AOL. That would have run you at least $20 a month in most markets. Then, if you made a standard amount of long distance calls (including "local" long distance in most large metro areas), you were looking at at least another $20 a month in LD charges. That's $40 for your phone, or about $55 in 2010 money. At $60 a month your cell phone provides you with hundreds of minutes of free long distance calling (unlimited in the late evenings and on weekends) in addition to the convenience of wireless. Not bad for about five extra dollars a month.

Re:How Quickly They Forget (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32873556)

And maybe cell phones are not really "subsidized". Maybe you're actually paying for the phone hardware.

Re:How Quickly They Forget (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873742)

Meanwhile in the UK the only real option at the time was pay per minute dial up and I regularly had bills averaging a couple hundred pound per month, I don't think free unlimited dial up took off here until 99/00, so to me my £30 per month unlimited data tariff (and a one-off payment of £99 for a phone that's probably much more powerful now than my £1,500 PC was back then) seems entirely reasonable.

Re:How Quickly They Forget (1)

bluesatin (1350681) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873330)

Look for the cost - of both the devices and bandwidth - to continue to decline over time.

Strangely enough they've actually gone up recently for AT&T and O2, with their 'unlimited' data plans being scrapped.

Although to be fair the product hasn't really changed much, if at all; they're just being more honest about the limit this time around.

Re:How Quickly They Forget (1)

sunspot42 (455706) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873508)

The cost has only gone up for those who exceed the bandwidth of the current plans. Precious few users do, at least at the moment. Presumably the caps will grow as average use grows (and if carriers like AT&T and O2 don't grow the caps, you can bet hungry competitors will).

Re:How Quickly They Forget (2, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873616)

With a 2 gig cap before those extra charges kick in, people aren't going to be willing to download too many copies of WIRED at half a gig apiece at $5 a pop - particularly when they can't pass it along to someone else when they're finished with it. And the reason for the hefty size? It was originally developed in flash, and weighed a lot less - then Jobs went and banned flash, and they had to quickly come up with an alternative ...

Re:How Quickly They Forget (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873772)

I would suggest, if you intend to download half a gig of data, WiFi might be the better option...

Re:How Quickly They Forget (1)

icebrain (944107) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873370)

in the same way folks who cancel their cable TV can afford a Netflix subscription and a substantial number of downloads from iTunes or Amazon and still end up money ahead (and see exactly what they want to see when they want to see it).

That's what we did. Wife and I canceled satellite and got smartphones, netflix, and a set of rabbit ears. We pay less per month and get a lot more use out of it. And not nearly as many ads, either.

Re:How Quickly They Forget (1)

lilo_booter (649045) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873490)

Wife and I canceled satellite and got smartphones, netflix, and a set of rabbit ears

Is this some kinda 'do you think bugs bunny looks cute when he dresses up as a girl' thing which perhaps you shouldn't be telling us about?

Re:How Quickly They Forget (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32874090)

Wife and I canceled satellite and got smartphones, netflix, and a set of rabbit ears

Is this some kinda 'do you think bugs bunny looks cute when he dresses up as a girl' thing which perhaps you shouldn't be telling us about?

LOL! No, he means rabbit Ears [wikipedia.org] , as in the North American colloquial term for an indoor setup of a dipole antenna on top of a TV set.

Re:How Quickly They Forget (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873440)

I believe the point they're trying (but not really achieving) to make is that more stuff used to be free when it was new and online, and we used to pay mostly for the hardware. Music, movies, all kinds of OS projects were often available for free (although often hacked). Big money steps in and does so after calculating a pay-back time.

I think that most stuff will always be free - hacked, cracked and illegally downloaded perhaps. The main question is simply how much money the average consumer is ready to spend on the digital world, and how much the digital world is willing to give the average consumer for that money.

The consumer wants all for free, and spend less rather than more unless there's something really special which is worth money. And the industry wants us to spend more money, which we won't do, because we don't have it.

-- sure, mods me down because I haven't read most of the article ;-)

Re:How Quickly They Forget (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873628)

When the Big Media started out with the movies, a VHS tape of a major motion picture cost you $90. Pay Per View fees for a special event movie might cost you as much as $15.

Now Walmart has big bins full of movies as low as $5.

I can gorge myself on Netflix for $10 a month.

Stuff has gotten much cheaper. The market has seemed to have adjusted to some bit of pressure from somewhere.

The marginal price of video is still usually zero. This is something that consumers have been made to be used to over
a VERY VERY long time. This is a situation that didn't just suddenly occur when some mangey guy from MIT decided that
certain sorts of stuff should be free. Media consumption has been gratis to the consumer since pretty much the dawn
of mass media in general.

Re:How Quickly They Forget (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873824)

And as for software, well discounting Apple, there are lots of free apps available (I've not found any task for my Android yet where I have been forced to buy a paid as opposed to a free app), and on the desktop it seems like a pretty golden age for FOSS, even on Windows systems there's a hell of a lot of free open source software available, whereas ten years ago there was far less choice. Really, it seems like the author has looked at one particular distribution model (the walled, paid garden) and assumed all roads lead to that model, whereas I look around and see more free stuff than ever, and even in the most locked down sectors - movies and music - prices have arguably dropped and there are plenty "all you can eat" services for a nominal fee for anyone who consumes a lot of content.

Re:How Quickly They Forget (4, Insightful)

eudaemon (320983) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873534)

Wireless internet access rates are slowly creeping upward. I can only speak to T-mobile as an example, but my blackberry plan was $20/mo. The switch to G1 added $5/mo as my choices were $25/mo without texting or $35/mo with, but that plan is shared with a family plan for voice minutes. Fast forward one year and the carrier discounted Nexus requires an individual plan that totals $70/mo. I paid full price on my Nexus One just to keep my old, cheaper plan. My friend who just bought a Sprint EVO found Sprint charges $29.99/mo for data, but require a separate tethering up-charge to boot, so Sprint is even more expensive than T-Mobile.

Don't get me wrong - the utility of these phone is such that you are practically carrying a laptop around, but the American data plans are so expensive I'm seriously considering the move from early adopter (owner of a development G1) back to prepaid dumb phone after years of carrying smart phones. A $20 phone with a $100/1000 minute prepaid sim is starting to look pretty good next to a $120/mo cell phone bill.

Re:How Quickly They Forget (1)

alex_vegas (891476) | more than 4 years ago | (#32874012)

Our friend Richard Branson offers us 5GB of mobile broadband with no contract for $60/month. Prepaid cellphone + Maemo netbook with a usb modem seems the way to go to me..

Re:How Quickly They Forget (2, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873590)

> Wait, $30 a month for Internet service on a $300 phone or $600 tablet? Yeah, that's real steep, as opposed to, say, $30 a month for AOL on a $1,500 Windows 95 PC a decade or so ago.

Regardless of what my Internet service costs per month, it pays for all of the devices connected to my network.

It doesn't require a separate fee for my Wii, for my 3 media PCs, for my Linux PCs, for my Macs, for the iphones or for the iPad.

Yes. Compared to that, paying $30 per month for a SINGLE device is infact high way robbery.

Those stupid little fees add up after awhile. If you can add, you can certainly pick up on this fact. Admittedly, that's a bit of a stretch for some "consumers".

The level of service you get for $30 per month on an iPhone or iPad also sucks. Sure it's mobile but it's slow and unreliable.

Re:How Quickly They Forget (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873880)

You realise you can also use that single device on your all encompassing home network? Assuming you could find the device minus a data package (sim only, no contract maybe) there's nothing stopping you using the phone just for calls/text messages and only using the internet when you have wireless available. Alternatively, try taking your PC into town and connecting using your home broadband and you'll instantly see what the limitations are. Of course, in an ideal world I'd love if both my broadband and mobile data packages were somehow tied so I paid once and could use anywhere and with anything, but two fees, one for any device at home and one for any device while roaming (setting my phone as a WiFi access point or tethering) is a reasonable compromise for me.

Re:How Quickly They Forget (1)

Garble Snarky (715674) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873960)

How is $30/month a reasonable number? I don't have a smartphone, but as I understand it, $30 is probably just the "data" fee - which comes on top of the "voice" fee of $50 or $60. My iphone friends like to claim that they really only pay $30 for the "data" - and yes, I understand that different services make use of several networks, which may have different upkeep costs, etc... but that distinction doesn't really make sense anymore. The "voice" fee is really just a "base" fee, and the amount you're paying for data really is $80 or $90, not $30.

When I can pay $30/month TOTAL for data access, then that number will be a reasonable comparison...

Search is still relevant... (5, Insightful)

ThisIsAnonymous (1146121) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873278)

From the article:

Smart phones in general, and the iPad more pointedly, are not driven by search.

I use my iPhone primarily for searching Google -- that's probably what I most use it for. If I'm watching a movie, reading a book, talking to someone, and I want to know some bit of information about the topic, I Google it on my phone and then view the relevant content in the browser. Of course, there is an app for that, but why would I want to install a dozen different applications (IMDB, Wikipedia etc.) when I can Google it and get the results on one page. Google is pretty good at providing what I need. I have no doubt, however, that other people use these individual apps to find the information they need. I guess it's a matter of preference.

Re:Search is still relevant... (0, Troll)

Threni (635302) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873354)

> why would I want to install a dozen different applications (IMDB, Wikipedia etc.) when I can Google it and get the results on one page.

Because websites suck, and you're better of accessing the data on the sites via a tool hand crafted for the screen size/ui of the device you're viewing it on.

Re:Search is still relevant... (2, Informative)

bluesatin (1350681) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873450)

> why would I want to install a dozen different applications (IMDB, Wikipedia etc.) when I can Google it and get the results on one page.

Because websites suck, and you're better of accessing the data on the sites via a tool hand crafted for the screen size/ui of the device you're viewing it on.

Because websites don't have mobile versions of their sites .. oh wait.

Re:Search is still relevant... (1)

ThisIsAnonymous (1146121) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873520)

While I agree that the individual applications are nicely formatted on the iPhone, I don't really like having to switch between different applications (of course, many sites have mobile versions now as well). If I want to Google some information about a certain film director, for example, I can get to several different sites (Wikipedia, IMDB etc.) all within the browser. I don't have to close the application at all to check some other application. As I said, I think it's really a matter of personal preference. I would have to click the back button or open new windows in the browser to view several different sites. I guess to some people, this would be the equivalent of opening the IMDB app, then closing it, then opening the Wikipedia app etc. Personally, I prefer the browser, but I'm sure some people don't. I find the browser to work faster for these sort of lookups.

Re:Search is still relevant... (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873678)

The power to search anything at the same time really makes any speciality app pale in comparison. Sure, the veneer might be pretty but the beauty there is only skin deep. Mobile apps are great perhaps if you are completely superficial. Otherwise, they end up being sorely lacking. The fact that mobile browsers create artificial need for apps (by being crappy browswers) is the single most annoying feature of mobile devices.

Re:Search is still relevant... (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873650)

>> why would I want to install a dozen different applications (IMDB, Wikipedia etc.) when I can Google it and get the results on one page.
>
>Because websites suck, and you're better of accessing the data on the sites via a tool hand crafted for the screen size/ui of the device you're viewing it on.

That's a laugh riot. Those "specialized" tools suck horribly. You're usually much better off with a generic website that has made no special effort to accomodate your particular special (mobile) device. The "mobile app" as web displacer is the single most overblown and overhyped bit of nonsense in the last decade.

Re:Search is still relevant... (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#32874026)

Google is pretty good at providing what I need. I have no doubt, however, that other people use these individual apps to find the information they need. I guess it's a matter of preference.

I'd say it's a metter of ignorance. Why pay for an IMBD app when IMDB and wikipedia and Google are accessable for free in the internet?

The Age of Free Information is over (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873280)

Netcraft confirmed it.

Re:The Age of Free Information is over (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873470)

Ironically, netcraft provided its confirmation information free of charge... thus being the exception that proves its own rule?

Wait (1)

eclectro (227083) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873288)

Yet lack of uptake by young people will hardly stop the rush to apps

No, but a deflationary environment can.

Terrible (3, Interesting)

crow_t_robot (528562) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873294)

It seems to me that this article is completely based around the iPhone and the AT&T data plan subscriptions. Does this guy forget that desktops/notebooks will still outnumber smartphones 20k/1? Almost everyone that owns a "Smartphone" owns at least 1 (if not more) expensive desktop/notebook computers that are connecting to the internet through the cable company. Also, I get the feeling that the smartphone subscription model might just be a re-hash of what happened in the early days of the AOL-style dial-up internet. Maybe things will start up this way and open up into much more free content and services as the market grows....just like the original internet did. Horrible article.

Re:Terrible (1)

coastwalker (307620) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873800)

I dont have and I dont want a smartphone with a dataplan. Not because I dont want a smartphone but because I dont want the dataplan and its walled garden. All of the subscription services are pretty much a con to make you pay for something you dont need that could be purchased on a pay as you go basis. I enjoy the free stuff but accept that it has to be payed for somehow. I'm not prepared to pay overinflated subscription fees for a walled garden though. When I read in forums about people paying $500 a month for a family plan with half a dozen iPhones I am deeply surprised that people could pay as much for running them as they probably spend on food. It has to be a vanity thing and a fashion statement. It will come to an end and something else will take over - like personal presence everywhere for example, where every phone or PC reconfigured itself to be your machine in your presence - and not straight jacketed into Apples revenue gathering funnel either. So they can fool all of the people some of the time or move on to fool some of the people all the time but the days of universal rip off subscriptions and walled gardens mediated by the smartphone are strictly limited. I might get one when they are finished.

The Internet as a business (4, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873296)

If you want to know why the "Information wants to be free" attitude is dying, it is because the Internet has been taken over by business interests; the original network of academics and hackers is just a tiny fraction of what the Internet has now become. Most of the people on the Internet have no interest in freedom, they just want to go to some large business' website and do whatever it is that they do there.

Re:The Internet as a business (2, Interesting)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873364)

With all due respect, the vast majority of 'information wants to be free' touting users today seem to be those happily downloading from TPB et al the content supplied by those "business interests". Or in other words, its justification for a given behaviour.

Re:The Internet as a business (1)

mlts (1038732) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873416)

This has been going all along. First, the Internet was researchers, old school hackers (using the old meaning of the term), and maybe a kook or two that at least was well behaved or their sysadmin would yank their access.

The start of the change is when NSFNet was handed over to commercial interests, and then Canter/Seigel spammed USENET and essentially got away with it.

These days, these types of people are on the wayside. The main people on the Internet are guys who are interested in p0rn and are more than willing to download a compromised executable or 20 in order to watch some XXX stuff. This is one reason why operating systems are being designed where the user doesn't control root, mainly because most users are too stupid for such access.

10-15 years ago, people knew what root or Administrator was, and the ramifications of running as such. Today, the average Internet monkey just doesn't care. This is why on devices, there is a battle to yank root access away from the consumer. This way Joe Sixpack who infects his computer and blames Microsoft for it doesn't go and infect his phone, then blame the maker because some app starts spamming everyone on the contact list.

Re:The Internet as a business (3, Insightful)

ciggieposeur (715798) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873446)

Just another face of Eternal September.

Re:The Internet as a business (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32873516)

they just want to go to some large business' website and do whatever it is that they do there.

it's called work, you might want to try it some time.

Survival isn't free (0)

dazedNconfuzed (154242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873528)

the "Information wants to be free" attitude is dying ...because everyone realizes at some point that they like to eat three times a day, and sleep in a warm dry bed, and that fulfilling those desires is not free. "Free" information isn't, it's a gift; someone had to pay for it.

Re:The Internet as a business (3, Informative)

mrsquid0 (1335303) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873604)

The original statement, back in 1984, was "On the one hand information wants to be expensive, ... On the other hand, information wants to be free," The "information wants to be expensive" part is important to understanding what "information wants to be free" really means.

Re:The Internet as a business (1)

williamhb (758070) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873620)

If you want to know why the "Information wants to be free" attitude is dying, it is because the Internet has been taken over by business interests; the original network of academics and hackers is just a tiny fraction of what the Internet has now become. Most of the people on the Internet have no interest in freedom, they just want to go to some large business' website and do whatever it is that they do there.

There had been a big business rush towards "free" -- a little akin to a second dot-com bubble but around a business model rather than a method of delivery. If "you can't compete with free" then let's put our stuff out there free, take the market, and work out how to monetise it later. Or for software If we release this free, the community will support it so we won't have to carry all the expense and will grow faster. As with the dot com bubble, there were winners and losers. It turns out to be pretty hard to monetise "free" and costs quite a bit of effort to build and maintain a community and momentum. Some companies are making a success of the "free" business model, but there's not the mad rush there used to be.

The Internet as mass appetites (4, Insightful)

hessian (467078) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873702)

If you want to know why the "Information wants to be free" attitude is dying, it is because the Internet has been taken over by business interests; the original network of academics and hackers is just a tiny fraction of what the Internet has now become.

If you want to know why that happened, look at the post-1996 audience for the internet: people who would otherwise be watching television.

They're looking for entertainment and socialization, not "information" in the colloquial sense of knowledge-bearing data.

Re:The Internet as mass appetites (1)

digitalsushi (137809) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873858)

I found this insightful enough to save your post's id for later reference. It's a simple point but I believe that expounds its genius. I think this 1996ish delimiter deserves an official name. I have no suggestions.

disclosure: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32873300)

shouldn't they have some sort of disclosure that they are in the 'information wants to be subscribed to business' that is being threatened by the 'information wants to be free' thing

meego is linux. (4, Interesting)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873302)

You can have the source.

http://meego.com/downloads [meego.com]

What's happening in fact is the proprietary mobile telcos are under pressure from all directions. Google and even more significantly, Nokia. Apple.... yeah... well...

The Internet is still there. The PC is still there. You now have all that moving mobile. It's more, not less.

 

The market disagrees (5, Insightful)

CodePwned (1630439) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873314)

Every single media provider who started to charge for content has lost out. New York Times is a great example. They've had to reduce prices again and again and again and still have trouble.

The second a news story is out, someone reproduces it. It's no longer about content ownership, it's who can get it out, correct and in a format people like FIRST.

Look at music... who won that one? Itunes. They got it out in a method and format faster and better than anyone. Now... admittedly there might have been better services but they didn't offer the library that itunes can. (I hate itunes before anyone passes judgment).

What the market is proving is that people have a threshold for payment on content. The majority of us it's around $10 for movies (that's when sales peak in numbers other than first release) on DVD's, for music it's around $15 for a full CD, 75 to 99 cents for an individual song... and so on. News media, it's 0. There are a small few of us that then replicate this news (to the media companies horror) to the wide audiences. The author things this will stop... and of course has no true understanding of the market.

Information is easier to share than at any other point in history. News is replicated and spread in seconds now, and people, not just the young kids, are used to it for FREE. The only way this "may" be possible is if every single news media group put up walls at the same time... AND noone found a way to bypass this. It's just not feasible.

The most impact this can possible have is a lag in news release in the hours. It's like the RIAA... it's an antiquated business model that doesn't work anymore. The times have changed so that content en masse is no longer valuable, just the content itself. Good news, strong stories... well written... that's what matters now.

Welcome to the 21st century.

Re:The market disagrees (2, Interesting)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873478)

Indeed, but the NPR model seems to still be holding up pretty well. They don't waste money trying to get absolutely everybody to pay, simply to get as many people as possible to pay, then not nag people during the rest of the year. On the net, it tends to be easier, because you can offer an ad version to those that can't or don't want to directly contribute, and give those that do an ad free version plus perhaps some minor perks.

It's not the frontier, but the mass market (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873324)

The shift of the digital frontier from the Web, where the browser ruled supreme, to the smart phone,

Most people don't have a smartphone. Most people have a basic mobile where you press a few buttons and talk to people - that's all. Until of if that changes, the massive bulk of the personal comuting iceberg will remain on desktop and laptop computers. That's where free software will retain it's natural lead, no matter what happens to the small (but significant in it's own way) proportion of smartphone users.

We should not get carried away by the hype from the manufacturers of these closed, locked down and heavily restricted devices. While they have a place, the vast bulk of applications - both free and paid-for will remain where the vast bulk of the users are: using devices with screens at least the size of a sheet of paper and with input devices that are usable for the mass creation of content. That's the main reason why PDAs failed to take off and is the main stopper behind smartphoens getting mass appeal. When they do, the free apps will follow.

Re:It's not the frontier, but the mass market (1)

takowl (905807) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873622)

[snip]... where the vast bulk of the users are: using devices with screens at least the size of a sheet of paper and with input devices that are usable for the mass creation of content.

And when you can drop your phone into a cradle at home, and it magically hooks up to a screen, keyboard and mouse? Or maybe even a short-range wireless link?

It doesn't take a genius to predict that what we now call 'smartphones' will get cheaper and more mass market until what you call a "basic mobile" seems as quaint as a phone with a two-line, monochrome LCD screen and a sticky-out aerial does now. It's hardly even a prediction: I already see more and more smartphones around, and more advertising for them.

Listen to yourself. Technology is like it is, and it's not going to change? Only a few years ago, cameras in phones seemed like a gimmick; of course people would want separate digital cameras. Now only the cheapest phones come without one, and the quality on the better ones is as good as basic consumer cameras. Even the iPod nano now has a camera. Predicting technology is never easy, but predicting that it won't really change much is almost guaranteed to be wrong.

That was 10 years ago (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873664)

Most people don't have a smartphone. Most people have a basic mobile where you press a few buttons and talk to people - that's all.

Note that a cheap supposedly non-smart phone (so called "feature" phone) these days let's you access the Internet, runs full web browsers, runs apps. In fact it's been that way since at least 2005, and these days such phones even have touchscreens. The distinction of "smartphone" today is really just to refer to "a high end phones" (e.g., faster processors, more features like wireless), or in some cases just a matter of marketing (e.g., Nokia label Symbian as "smartphone", S40 as "feature phone"; the original Iphone was a smartphone simply because Apple marketed it as such, despite it lacking many features).

I'm not sure if you can even get "dumb" phones that can only talk and text these days, but they'd be at the very cheapest end of the market.

Not that I disagree with your comment - I still dislike how most phones are locked down, which is why I'm glad of things like netbooks, where you can run full open source operating systems, rather than them being locked down toys.

Re:That was 10 years ago (1)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873922)

I'm not sure if you can even get "dumb" phones that can only talk and text these days, but they'd be at the very cheapest end of the market.

Yes, of course you can still get these types of phones. I got one last year. I spent some time in a very rural area of northern Wisconsin that had no service for my ATT Blackberry. I went out and got a cheap Kyocera phone from Tracfone. Cost me about 15 bucks, I think. All it does it voice and SMS. It does them both fantastically though. And the battery lasts at least 5 days.

After using the Blackberry for so long, I had forgotten 1) how lightweight a simple phone is, 2) how long the battery lasts and 3) that when you don't have all the bluetoothing, web-browsing, emailing, picture-sending, Facebooking, Foresquaring, whatever else is popular application to hog up resources, the phone is much more stable.

That said, when I'm at the cabin, I do tend to use my Nokia N800 together with the Tracfone when I head into town, so I'm not saving anything when it comes to bulk. The N800 is getting old, but still serves its purpose. And when I get back to civilization, it's actually kind of disappointing going back to the Blackberry for web/email access.

to media producers banking on paywalls and iPads.. (1)

16K Ram Pack (690082) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873340)

... Think Again.

The only reason that you enjoyed what you had before is that there wasn't the content distribution network of the internet. It was very narrow. Newsagents had limited shelves, Satellite companies had limited numbers of channels. It was only because of limited options that you could do what you could do.

What did the monks who hand wrote books do after Gutenberg? Probably stopped hand writing books, mostly. Once anyone could write their own books, you didn't need people to write it for you.

The Right to Read (3, Interesting)

McDutchie (151611) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873342)

Instead of this piece of fluff (which should have been titled "The End of Freedom"), it's better to re-read The Right to Read by RMS: http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/right-to-read.html [gnu.org] . He saw this coming back in 1997.

Re:The Right to Read (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873382)

I find it amusing that straw man arguments are regularly derided here on Slashdot, but RMS's "Right to Read" story seems to be given a pass when its nothing but a straw man...

Re:The Right to Read (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32873476)

You mean we're not on a slippery slope leading to people being prevented from doing with information as they see fit? Oh, good. I thought we were. Good thing I can go back to sleep. Everything is fine.

Re:The Right to Read (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873546)

Even under RMS's personal ideal you could never "do with information as you see fit".

Re:The Right to Read (4, Funny)

migla (1099771) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873752)

Are you gonna have the "which-is-more-freedom-the-right-to-be-free-but-without-the-right-to-enslave-or-the-right-to-be-free-including-the-right-to-enslave-debate now?

I'll join, but I'll just skip it and jump to the end and state that I like the one without slavery better. :)

Freedom? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32874132)

That is a worship word. Yang worship. You will not speak it.

Radical shift (0)

RDW (41497) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873346)

'The shift of the digital frontier from the Web, where the browser ruled supreme, to the smart phone, where the app and the pricing plan now hold sway, signals a radical shift from openness to a degree of closed-ness that would have been remarkable even before 1995'

I guess this is a bit far-fetched, but I wonder if it would be possible to design a phone that could somehow access the 'free' web so we could 'browse' it anywhere without having to carry a PC around? And maybe even introduce some sort of flat-rate monthly 'internet access charge' like those we have for broadband? Or how about a really crazy idea - might it even be possible to persuade people to buy proprietary 'applications' for home computers?

Re:Radical shift (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873750)

> Or how about a really crazy idea - might it even be possible to persuade people to buy proprietary 'applications' for home computers?

Sounds like the 80s.

If you wanted to use the 80s version of Google Maps, you were stuck doing it on one and only one platform because
most companies didn't want to bother with supporting multiple platforms. That is basically what Steve Jobs and all
of his little Fanboys are pushing us into.

Steve wants to be the new Bill.

how can you compare the web to the smartphone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32873348)

The shift of the digital frontier from the Web, where the browser ruled supreme, to the smart phone, ...

how can you compare the WEB to a SMARTPHONE???

In the early pc era first there were programms then came the browser. Now we see a slow but persistent migration of most functionality of those programms to the browser platform (think google docs,...). I think the same is happening with smartphones. Just because the average smartphone browser doesnt support everything a normal pc browser does (yet), doesnt mean that long term the web in the browser wont prevail even on the phones.

There is so much fragmentation in the smartphone market it's easyer to provide content to multiple types of phones and users through the browser platform than with an app (though for now you are very limited about using your phones full hw potential). and with time and acceptance of html5 and beyond, this will be even easyer.

To develop an app that runs fine on all different platforms you have to know the ins and outs of each specific platform. In theory to develop a browser app you need to better know just one. and that one is opento each and every phone user even if he or she uses a 5year old phone. they mostly have internet capabilities.

I think that the current state of mind that apps are the future is missguided. I see it more like a fad that will gradualy fade away and give way to the constantly evolving browser/web platform for just about everything you do on you smartphone.

Re:how can you compare the web to the smartphone? (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#32874118)

Given what we're being promised with HTML5, it seems like apps might be a nice interim measure until sufficient desktop browsers support the new features. At that point, as you say, it will make much more sense to write an app that is browser based and can run on any device, be it a Mac with Safari, a Windows PC with Chrome, a phone browser or whatever.

Confusing apps and network, with content (4, Insightful)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873358)

The shift of the digital frontier from the Web, where the browser ruled supreme, to the smart phone, where the app and the pricing plan now hold

The article confuses apps, Internet connections, with paying for media. On the desktop, it's long been the case that people pay for software (despite the useful presence of free software). And people pay for their Internet connection.

Similarly with phones - people pay for applications, they pay for their connection.

And the problem on the desktop isn't that people are unwilling to pay for media, it's that it often isn't available. Can I get TV on demand online for a charge? Not as far as I know in the UK. So I've no doubt that people will pay money for an app that gives them TV on a phone, but they would do so on the desktop too.

Where pay-for media is struggling is news. Are people more like to pay to read a newspaper on their 5800 than on their Intel Windows PC?

They are operating on the largely correct assumption that people will be more likely to pay for consumer-friendly apps via the iPad, and a multitude of competing devices due out this year

Ah yes, a multitude of computing devices (laptops, netbooks, tablets, PMPs, phones), but let's give the obligitary product placement to the Ipad. Do we really think that most people will be walking around with an Ipad? And are netbook users etc going to start paying for content?

And with Apple in the driver's seat

Hah. Thankfully - given the article's valid concerns about their closed policy - this isn't remotely true when we look in terms of things like market share. Though no doubt I predict plenty of replies arguing until they're blue in the face that they are (or redefining market share to use some arbitrary criteria where they are first).

Twitter, like other recent-vintage social networks, is barely bothering with its Web site; its smart-phone app is more fully featured. The independent TweetDeck, which collates feeds across multiple social networks, is not browser-based.

This sort of thing is hardly new, nor necessarily a bad thing. Years ago, people used Usenet clients. Many people still use email clients. Sites like LiveJournal have downloadable clients for desktop platforms. It goes without saying that the software versions are more featured - otherwise what would be the point of them. We didn't have hip names for them like "apps", but it's the same thing, long before people started using their phones.

But again, the article is conflating different issues - the technology (website versus software) with the idea of free content. Is anyone going to pay to read Twitter feeds, despite its use of apps?

Re:Confusing apps and network, with content (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32873390)

LiveJournal? What is that?

Oh, you mean Livejournal. Now your arbitrary capitalisation has gone mid-word! You should check your code. Your buffer must have overflown scrambling to be first to cast a throwaway mention of the iPad as product placement (with your lame, intentional mistyping) seems to have broken down your "English" routines.

All you're missing is a well-rounded, impotent M$ in your comment to complete the Circle of Troll.

Re:Confusing apps and network, with content (2, Insightful)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873566)

Huh?

I don't really care whether it's LiveJournal or Livejournal; IPhone or Iphone. Where did I suggest that Livejournal was incorrect, or IPhone was incorrect?

If you mean I'm not writing "iPhone", I fail to see what that's got to do with LiveJournal, since I didn't write "liveJournal" (or "lIvejournal"). If I was in the business of writing trademarks, it would be "LiVEJOURNAL", by the way.

I apologise if everything I write doesn't seem completely consistent to you, I'll have to try better next time. I'm not the one going around moaning at how other people write, however.

(with your lame, intentional mistyping)

It's called English. "iPad" is the stylised trademark, which I don't write, anymore than you don't write "Toys R Us" with a backwards R; just as no one writes "Intel" or "Adidas" with a lower case capital, and just as you don't sing "ding-dong-ding-dong" when you write Intel.

All you're missing is a well-rounded, impotent M$

Why would I write "M$"? What have Microsoft got to do with anything here?

the Circle of Troll

If you're going to accuse me of inconsistency, shouldn't that be "cIrcle of tRoll", if you love capitalising second letters but not the first so much?

Re:Confusing apps and network, with content (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873780)

> LiveJournal? What is that?
>

      Mebbe we need to get you your "ear horn" old man.

> Oh, you mean Livejournal. Now your arbitrary capitalisation has gone mid-word! You should check
> your code. Your buffer must have overflown scrambling to be first to cast a throwaway

Don't blame the OP. Blame the owners of the relevant website. That's how they do it. It's
THEIR name. It's up to them how they want to present it.

Good news (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32873366)

I hope this really is the case. The WWW will be much better off if all the herdable bunch continue their slow, guided path into app-land and let the west return to the wild.

Strawman based on bastardized belief system (5, Insightful)

nadaou (535365) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873378)

If you go back to the actual quote,

"In fall 1984, at the first Hackers' Conference, I said in one discussion session: "On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it's so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other." That was printed in a report/transcript from the conference in the May 1985 *Whole Earth Review*, p. 49.

http://www.rogerclarke.com/II/IWtbF.html [rogerclarke.com]

cue twenty-five years later, the first part of the quote being widely forgotten, and an army of too-smart-for-you opionators attacking their own mis-quote using the original quote's argument as their justification for why it is wrong.

It really makes you wonder what the non-populistized seventeen people later word of mouth versions of the original western religious texts were actually trying to say..

Re:Strawman based on bastardized belief system (2, Insightful)

locallyunscene (1000523) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873764)

I'd say the movement for openness and freedom has moved a bit beyond the original quote and that any modern position could be called "bastardized" by that logic. Roger Clarke was stating the problem. People advocating open and/or free principals have chosen their priority in that dichotomy. Your contempt is hardly justified.

Re:Strawman based on bastardized belief system (1)

shadowofwind (1209890) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873832)

It really makes you wonder what the non-populistized seventeen people later word of mouth versions of the original western religious texts were actually trying to say..

Going way off topic....I used to wonder that, but now I don't care. Because of the cultural assumption "Jesus is Lord", it seems arrogant or even a little risky to say "Jesus was full of shit". So people say that the teaching of Jesus was cool, but his disciples and later folllowers twisted everything. And maybe there's truth to that. But if its like everything else in our world, it had at least subtle flaws from the start, even if those flaws were exploited and expanded later. How to sort it all out? It doesn't matter. Just read what's left, if you're inclined to, and take what you can from it. If you learn something true and valuable, that's independent of whether what you learned is what the original writer really meant. Personally I found Gospel of Thomas to be a lot more worthwhile than the four in the Bible, but no doubt its full of half-truths and distortions also. If great truths have been 'lost', as they no doubt have been, we'll discover and derive them again when we're ready for them.

Re:Strawman based on bastardized belief system (2, Interesting)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873842)

I think the 95% drop in the price of movies rather more supports the common interpretation of that quote then your attempt to rewrite it.

Of course you are ignoring a very important part of that quite to suit your agenda. That part being "the right information". Most information
has no real value. It's just entertainment dreck. That's why it is so easily devalued. It isn't "the right information". It isn't the "right
information" for anyone because it really is meaningless.

So it gets easily devalued when measured against all of the other n+1 variants of the same sort of thing.

Thus they all get thrown together in a big bin at Walmart priced at a 95% discount when compared to what they would cost in 1985.

It is the beginning. Not the end. (1)

v(*_*)vvvv (233078) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873410)

Companies will always find ways to make money, because they are created when people come up with strategies to do so. And that is a main goal for many. Hence, there will always be growth in that direction, and it will always grow towards its maximum. Is it at its maximum? Nowhere close. And it is nowhere close even for Apple's closed garden, or for Facebook's closed social network.

HOWEVER.

Twitter and Facebook are leading the way to a new model of news and media all together. Anyone can follow anyone instantly. The viewer is connected directly to the publisher, and there are no middlemen. Distribution is a dead concept. Instant direct access by anyone to anything. And we can follow *exactly* what we want with no Ads. Not only is it free, it is superfree (no revenue model whatsoever). As long as we want to be heard, no strings will ever be attached. Furthermore, this unfiltered content directly from the source is the best kind of content for most. Goodbye big media.

Although the original article is interesting and informative, it misses one key point in its conclusion, and that is the inevitable arrival of the peer-to-peer social network platforms. GeoCities was great, but it never made the web better, and where is it now? The web is peer-to-peer and that is what makes it great. Apache never owned any of our content, and we the people will own the future social web as well. We already feel it would be better that way, and we're all just waiting for a company to make that value proposition.

It's just (5, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873434)

That a lot of "Free" stuff also turns out to be crap. Therefore the hidden cost is the time it takes in sorting out the good free stuff from the crap. With payware certain standards are expected - or even enforced by third parties (ie an app store). In cases where some crapware does find its way into that third party store, usually there is someone to complain to and the crapware is removed quickly.

It's the old argument of "I can't be bothered to do it myself". It's why we have politicians. It's why we have religions and "gods". Because we prefer to have 'someone else' to delegate certain fears and worries to (even if that 'someone else' turns out to be corrupt in the case of politicians and clerics, or even non-existent in the case of gods). Humans are funny that way.

Re:It's just (1)

AlexiaDeath (1616055) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873626)

So, you are saying there is no crap payware? That's just bullshit. There's a lot of costly crap-ware. When you pick an app, price is not an indication of goodness. Popularity is. Popularity however is slightly skewed on the side of cheap. So cheap/free popular app has probably a bit less quality than a paid app of same popularity, but that's it.

Re:It's just (2, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873864)

> With payware certain standards are expected

That is a nice bit of delusion.

It is entirely bogus of course.

There is plenty of total dreck in payware software. There's plenty of expensive software that makes you want to delete
it and install something Free instead. Microsoft was always great at making stuff like that. Apple even manages to do
that too. Their "curation" of the app store also doesn't help curb the desire for better solutions and better products
whether they're free or not.

The idea that "payware is better" is just post factum argumentation by the swindled used to soothe their sorry egos.

You got taken and you don't want to admit it. You need to justify some product choice that cost more than it really needed to.

You weren't taken. You're just just vulnerable to flim flam. "it really is better"

The existence of free things does not alter the need to pay attention to what you "buy". Paying for something doesn't magically allow you to be blissfully ignorant of what you are buying our what your actual requirements are.

Subsidization may bring free back... (2, Interesting)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873460)

I just recently paid $140 for a refurbished Kindle that has unlimited wireless Internet access on it. Yeah, the interface on the "Experimental" web browser is a bit kludgy but I can check my email, sports scores, and basic stuff like that for free. Amazon is betting that enough people use Kindle's purchasing system that it pays for the limited web usage they offer. If they are right and the web browser remains free, other services may adopt similar strategies of giving away basic Internet access in exchange for locking you in as a potential customer.

Why are phones different? (1)

T.E.D. (34228) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873468)

Perhaps I'm weird, but I don't pay for phone apps either. There are plenty of free apps out there.

In the long run I think these folks are in for a disappointment. Economics works the same way with phones that it does for computers.

Re:Paying for Apps (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873558)

I'm just having fun that Apps are so much better than Windows Mobile 6. After I get all my shinies, I'll just go back to my life.

Gold Rush (1, Insightful)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873482)

(Snark)
"Hai Apple. Nice job getting Shareware to actually work! You earned your $."
(/Snark)

They got all my respect for doing business right. Everyone, take your $200 and buy your favorite apps. (Waits)

Okay, everyone back? Everyone got your nice little 50 apps at $4 each? Good. Where were we ... Oh yes, the web. Watch what happens when 50% of companies stop maintaining the back end of their apps. We'll see 12 lawsuits from critical cases, and then it will all shake out into the top 100 apps that everyone will want, and we'll go back to *basic* info wanting to be free.

The author is a lobbyist (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32873504)

He is preping the audience to expect this and so to not be upset when it arrives.
thats why he is like essentially a lobbyist but is lobbying the public to say "hey this is normal so just except it and do it".

This is why his logic path is not really logical because he needs to bend a few times to make it all match up with his intention which is to convince readers that its normal and logical that the price should go up.

Its a common technique, like a self fulfilling prophecy

There's too much potential upside. (4, Insightful)

overshoot (39700) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873514)

As always, defining the business as though the only question that matters is, "how much can I milk the market for?"

Apparently, the "consumers" are like grass: just an infinite [1] supply of fodder to be exploited, with all the decisions being made for us up the food chain.

[1] I live in the West, and see on a regular basis how infinite that "sea of grass" really wasn't.

Trying to put the cat back in the bag (2, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873588)

Well, Rupert Murdoch has attempted to be the first to start to charge again for his newspaper content. But the conventional wisdom is that if you offer your content for free, then start charging again while your competitors don't, that you're going to be the sacrificial lamb who ends up crashing and burning. Certainly, if Murdoch succeeds, his competitors will be more than happy to follow suit, but no one else is exactly lining up until they see that he doesn't fall on his ass.

I'm not sure (3, Interesting)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873668)

I no longer really use it that much, but when I did use my iPod Touch to get App-store apps, the VAST majority of the apps that I downloaded and used were in fact, free. Not as in speech, but as in beer at least. It seems like for the vast majority of things that I wanted, there were either people willing to donate their time, or who were hoping to recoup their costs via another method (IIRC, Fandango had out a movie show time listing app for free that was subsidized by the ability to buy tickets online to most of those movies).

Look at Android: a very popular cellphone OS that is in fact, Free.

I personally see "Free" taking off even more now. PARTICULARLY on desktop PC's. Smartphones, with their varied landscape, are essentially teaching users to deal with different platforms. If they can get to the web, manage their photos, and perform basic services, then they're fine with that. If the UI is a little different between new phones, then no biggie. Many content providers are doing the same too. They can't code their websites to IE6 and claim "most everybody is using that anyways". These days LOTS of people will be hitting that site with a phone, and hence sites are by necessity going to have to be coded to be more tolerant of various browser rendering engines. Once that user mindset is starts to bleed over into desktops a bit, I think a tolerance for something "a little different looking" will come. When that tolerance gets here, the Linux option on a new PC is going to look very nice if the user can save $25-50 on the total cost.

In short, I think we're just moving from a de-facto single vendor model to a fractured model. Sure, some new pay solution will arise here, but I think the door is wide open for OSS here too.

On a side note... (5, Informative)

chill (34294) | more than 4 years ago | (#32873730)

The 5th Annual World eBook Fair is currently underway [worldebookfair.org] from July 04 - August 04 with over 3,500,000 PDF eBooks available for, ahem, FREE.

Free is not free. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32873896)

I will gladly pay to have things freed.

And there will always be "business men" trying to prove you have to give your gold to them. This is so old there's a fable about it!

Seriously, confusing these two meanings (free and free) can only be for two reasons:
- malice, if there's an agenda (think M$) or
- incompetence -- yet can any publication afford such mistake?

Lack of capacity to pay these mortgages will... (1)

alex_vegas (891476) | more than 4 years ago | (#32874050)

...hardly result in an inability to sell them. Apps aren't a gold mine, they're a carnival sideshow. Big data is where the money is going to be, apps are just part of the "feeder" infrastructure.
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