the cost of free
This is becoming a recurring theme. We are being lassoed by free while complacently accepting, even expecting as much free as possible. Free is nice. Free always has a price. The insidious part of it is the indirect nature of the payments that must be made—payments hidden under the masquerade of transparency, or behind our interactions on the internet. Hidden under the ruse of giving us what we want. Hidden in the price of the products we buy. Hidden in lower wages and fewer jobs. Hidden in the incessant barrage of visual, auditory, and mental pollution from advertising.
It’s time for us to break out of the trap. It’s time to start paying directly. Opt-out of free. Demand a direct pay option. If you still think it doesn’t matter, or that free is good, watch the documentary Terms and Conditions May Apply.
This subject is Jaron Lanier’s major point in his book, Who Owns the Future?, and pops up many times in Julia Angwin’s Dragnet Nation as “pay for performance.” It’s reiterated in Marc Goodman’s Future Crimes. Bill McKibben argues for the need to decentralize banking, commerce and government in his book, Deep Economy. McKibben relays multiple examples of why smaller, local models are not only beneficial, but necessary, and how a few grassroots efforts are successfully applying the principles of decentralization. And in a less direct way, it’s related to Margaret Heffernen’s A Bigger Prize, a book about the destructiveness of competition.
Free is the hottest bait. It’s used to outcompete and squelch diversity while simultaneously clamping a ring in your nose and leg irons on your ankles.
Free is a gambit. Be on guard. Free yourself.
Read part 1 [Based on Science : the cost of ignorance]
Read part 2 [Falsehoods, Fabrications, Fictions : the cost of negligence]
Watch the BBC documentary on the cost of free : [The Virtual Revolution]