It’s a good thing that I don’t always write about online matters, and good also that David Weinberger and I have long-standing philosophical disagreements about hermeneutics and digital metaphysics. Otherwise, one my be inclined to construe this as nothing more than a Weinberger applause blog.
But David hits the point squarely with his post about “free peanuts,” the not-strictly-free enticements with which purveyors entice customers to spend [more] money. Shared music and video files — usually highly compressed, of less quality than the full originals — should constitute the peanuts that distributers write off as indirect advertising, as one by-product of the general popularity of their merchandise.
I don’t like the sound of “freechasing,” David’s neologism for this phenomenon, but this was exactly the argument I made this week to a publisher who called me up for some feedback about an online publishing project. Save money that you might spend on access restrictions, give away as much as you possibly can, and make money on your popularity, reputation, and added-value features.
And I prefer free popcorn to free peanuts.