Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Wednesday 2pm Section

From Terranova's paper:
John Horvarth, however, did not share this opinion. The “free stuff” offered around the Net, he argued, “is either a product that gets you hooked on to another one or makes you just consume more time on the net. After all, the goal of the access people and telecoms is to have users spend as much time on the net as possible, regardless of what they are doing. The objective is to have you consume bandwidth.”

This quote completely overlooks the major message of sharing and collaborating on the Internet. While it's true that there a plenty of free services who offer themselves to get you to buy the premium version, or ad-supported services that make more money the longer you use them, there are tons of services that exist strictly because someone decided to share.

Consider most Web forums, which may make money off of advertising, but the users aren't paid to post. Here, huge communities of people will share information to help each other out. No one is obliged to post or even incentivized in most cases. People share for the sake of sharing.

We also have to consider some of the major open source projects that are available for free. Firefox may be a profitable product, but many of its developers are hobbyists who share their time and skills simply to work on improving what they feel to be a significant piece of software.

These are just some examples, but it goes to show that although much of the free services that we use are profitable for some people, there are many users or entire services that are free for the sake of being free. There is a certain moral freeness that can make a product more satisfying to use, or make it seem more trustworthy, since the development is done by passionate volunteers.

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