Kevin Kelly has an interesting reflection about what happens when digital copies of content become freely available and how value can be generated elsewhere. The blog post is titled “Better than free” (link) and asks the important question about what we can do when the traditional business model for content no longer works. Things that can freely be distributed will tend toward zero in monetary value, so:
When copies are free, you need to sell things that cant be copied.
According to Kelly, the following things are incredibly difficult to copy (his terms, my interpretations):
- Immediacy – getting it straight away (reminds me of the instant gratification society that was described in the late 90’s)
- Personalisation – making something individual for you
- Interpretation – making meaning from freely available content
- Accessibility – alowing access accross channels and terminals
- Embodiment – converting bits to atoms
- Patronage – allowing individuals to contribute through free will
- Authenticity – trust, truth and reliability
- Findability – making things available where people will lookI think these are interesting terms, but I think that his focus in these terms is content centric rather than customer centric (or user centric).
Many of the things he comments are related to user behaviour and not just the qualities of the media itself. For example, authenticity is a new desire from the market (link), findability is often related to word of mouth and trusted sources (eg: reviewers), embodiment relates to a need to simplify through known interfaces rather than new ones, and accessibility relates to our disinterest in where and what we access things on, we just want them.
I think Kelly has identified some important trends, but I would really like him to look at this from a consumer behaviour perspective rather than from a content perspective.