Com597c-Week 7: Bill Wasik is a liar

August 4, 2009

I disagree with Wasik that shorter content will remain to be free. I believe content is a commodity no matter what its’ length is. The value in content is what is says, not how long it is. One ironic example is Free by Chris Anderson, which was released for free initially, but if you wanted to “Cliff Notes” version it would cost you. If you think about it in academia as well, the value in say a scholarly journal used for a reference rests more in its’ citation and abstract than the article in full. It’s like the publisher would be saying, “Look, if you just want to know what these 234 pages are saying about the breeding habits of chimpanzees with hyper-active diarrhea in 500 words or less and cite it, you have to pay us; otherwise read it yourself.” This is the same principle as why groceries are cheaper at stores where you have to bag them yourself – “if we do the work for you, there’s a convenience charge.”

The fact of the matter is that our data and information is proprietary to those who have money, allowing the rich to continue to have the knowledge necessary to continue to be fruitful. This is called the digital divide and it plays right in to Wasik‘s (editor of the elite publication Haper’s) argument. It would be interesting to open his head and see if this is his expectation out of necessity, a self-fulfilling prophecy more than an educated conclusion. Shorter content in the traditional medias’ distributional models makes sense to give away because it doesn’t take up as much space than longer content. It takes up more space so it’s more valuable, right? Not necessarily, and since the web is a relatively cheap or free distribution model space is no longer a measure of value, it becomes about the quality of the content – not the length.

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