Making The 'Significant Objects' Project... Even More Significant

from the recycling-for-profit dept

Back in July, we commented on the Significant Objects project where 100 authors are writing up 100 stories involving 100 various trinkets -- and then selling those stories along with the associated items on eBay for a tidy profit. (The project originally struck me as an experiment to see if the one red paperclip stunt could be mass produced in some way as a sustainable publishing business.) Now, just a few months later, Slate has teamed up with the Significant Objects folks with a contest for Slate readers to submit their own 500-word stories about a cheap tchotchke -- a BBQ sauce jar bought at a thrift store for $0.75. The contest attracted over 600 stories to be judged by Slate and the Significant Objects founders, and the winner gets the honor of being picked as well as the proceeds from its eBay auction -- which has a current bid (and profit) of about $20.

This contest is brilliant in that it not only highlights the concept that every product is a bundle of scarce and infinite goods, but it also demonstrates that content can be used to engage with an audience as a form of entertaining advertising. For the price of a bauble and some editorial judging, Slate connected with its fans and gathered a bit of demographic information on its readers who sent in a story (submissions had to be accompanied by an email address and location). Imagine if Slate had instead put a banner ad on its website with a form to fill out for personal information, the response rate for that would likely be much much lower. But with this contest, the cost of the BBQ jar was negligible, and Slate editors spent their time reading stories and got a peek into the creative minds of its readership. Okay, the drawback is that the submission judging process is actually not a trivial task, especially when there are more than a handful of entries (and more than a couple judges). Even Google hasn't exactly figured out how to judge its own Project 10100 contest. However, the search giant opened up the judging to let anyone vote on winners to help narrow down the selection. (And there are other examples of crowdsourced judging processes like Threadless's tshirt designs.) So I envision the next generation of advertising contests reaching out to audiences, calling upon more volunteers, and trying more and more creative campaigns to produce scarce goods out of thin air.


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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 28th, 2009 @ 12:28am

    Scarce and infinite goods?

    "This contest is brilliant in that it not only highlights the concept that every product is a bundle of scarce and infinite goods ..."

    I'm not sure what you mean by this. The stories combined with the objects are a combination of non-physical and physical goods, but what are the "infinite" goods? If you mean the stories, presumably each object comes with a unique story, so that part isn't infinite. Each story should be one-of-a-kind.

    The objects, while perhaps common, aren't infinite either.

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 28th, 2009 @ 12:53am

      Re: Scarce and infinite goods?

      I'm not sure what you mean by this. The stories combined with the objects are a combination of non-physical and physical goods, but what are the "infinite" goods? If you mean the stories, presumably each object comes with a unique story, so that part isn't infinite. Each story should be one-of-a-kind.

      The stories, once created, are in fact infinite, in that they can be copied infinitely at no cost.

       

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        Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 28th, 2009 @ 1:01am

        Re: Re: Scarce and infinite goods?

        But if everyone on eBay used the same story, the Significant Objects project wouldn't work because then each item on eBay would sound alike. For example, let's say the story is, "My uncle found this hiking Africa." If every shirt, every jar, every book on eBay started with "My uncle found this hiking in Africa," it would be kind of pointless.

        The fact that something can be copied doesn't mean it is infinite. If that is the case, presumably every conversation is infinite because it can be repeated.

        The act of creating the story is no more infinite than a team of marketing people coming up with a slogan. If one slogan can be used for every product, then there's no need for marketing people.

         

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          Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 28th, 2009 @ 1:04am

          Re: Re: Re: Scarce and infinite goods?

          But if everyone on eBay used the same story, the Significant Objects project wouldn't work because then each item on eBay would sound alike.

          Hmm? I didn't say anything about everyone using the same story.

          The point isn't that everyone uses the same story, but that the story is out there, separate from the object.

          For example, let's say the story is, "My uncle found this hiking Africa." If every shirt, every jar, every book on eBay started with "My uncle found this hiking in Africa," it would be kind of pointless.

          Indeed. But no one suggested anything like that. Not even close. Why create a strawman?


          The fact that something can be copied doesn't mean it is infinite. If that is the case, presumably every conversation is infinite because it can be repeated.


          But it is infinite. It can be copied without limit at no cost.

          The act of creating the story is no more infinite than a team of marketing people coming up with a slogan. If one slogan can be used for every product, then there's no need for marketing people.

          The act of *creating* a story is scarce. The story, once created, is infinite. Important difference.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Oct 28th, 2009 @ 6:12am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Scarce and infinite goods?

            The story is only scarce for a short moment because nobody has done this before. Next week, there will be the "Significant Stuffed Animal" and then the "Significant Boardpass Stub" and a thousand others, and the concept is proven to be neither unique not particularly scarce.

            It is at best an artificial construct of scarcity, as it is something that can easily be replicated by other writers and a whole industry could spawn from it, making it as unique as grains of sand on a beach.

            It's a cute project, a novelty, but nothing much more. Trying to read in some sort of scarce goods moral into it is a bit of a (techdirt) reach.

             

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              Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 28th, 2009 @ 8:48am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Scarce and infinite goods?

              "Trying to read in some sort of scarce goods moral into it is a bit of a (techdirt) reach."

              I tend to agree that saying anything involving words is "infinite" is a stretch.

               

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                nasch (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 8:25am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Scarce and infinite goods?

                "Infinite goods" is shorthand for something that can be reproduced an arbitrary number of times for essentially zero marginal cost. You can see why the term "infinite" is much more convenient than that mouthful. Substitute it in your head every time you see it here, and everyone will be happy!

                 

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                  Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 8:36am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Scarce and infinite goods?

                  "'Infinite goods' is shorthand for something that can be reproduced an arbitrary number of times for essentially zero marginal cost."

                  Sure, I understand.

                  But this isn't a good example, because each object comes with a unique story.

                  Plus, while the "infinite goods" idea works if you want to create a lot of exposure (e.g., putting your music on the web for free), the "Significant Objects" experiment doesn't depend on exposure. The idea is that people will stumble upon an object on eBay, fall for the story, and then believing it, decide to buy the object. If you promote this concept heavily by blasting the story to everyone, then people know the stories have just been made up and it works against selling the objects.

                  THAT'S my point. You don't always want to give stuff away for free for exposure. Sometimes you want to keep it quiet and market something one at a time, one-on-one.

                  The "give-it-away-for-free-because-it-costs-you-nothing" sales technique is NOT the best option in all cases. The "Significant Objects" idea where it is likely to be counterproductive.

                  Imagine, if you will, a guy who is a smooth talker. Women think he is talking just to each one of them. If, on the other hand, someone records his pick up lines and puts them on the web, his game is up. Now the women know he tells the same thing to each of them.

                   

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                    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 12:02pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Scarce and infinite goods?

                    But this isn't a good example, because each object comes with a unique story.

                    The story IS INFINITE. Stop pretending it's not. It is. The object is scarce. But by linking the infinite to the scarce, it makes the scarce more valuable.

                    The fact that the story is unique does not change the fact that it's infinite. You seem to have trouble understanding this concept and I really cannot figure out why.

                    Plus, while the "infinite goods" idea works if you want to create a lot of exposure (e.g., putting your music on the web for free), the "Significant Objects" experiment doesn't depend on exposure. The idea is that people will stumble upon an object on eBay, fall for the story, and then believing it, decide to buy the object. If you promote this concept heavily by blasting the story to everyone, then people know the stories have just been made up and it works against selling the objects.

                    You keep thinking that by infinite we mean it HAS to be spread widely. No. We never said that (again you keep making up these false definitions). We said that it CAN be spread widely.

                    THAT'S my point. You don't always want to give stuff away for free for exposure. Sometimes you want to keep it quiet and market something one at a time, one-on-one.

                    It's not just about "exposure." It's about using the infinite to make the scarce more valuable. And that's exactly what the story does.

                    The "give-it-away-for-free-because-it-costs-you-nothing" sales technique is NOT the best option in all cases. The "Significant Objects" idea where it is likely to be counterproductive.

                    But they did give the story away for free. Please show me where they didn't? You aren't making any sense.

                    Imagine, if you will, a guy who is a smooth talker. Women think he is talking just to each one of them. If, on the other hand, someone records his pick up lines and puts them on the web, his game is up. Now the women know he tells the same thing to each of them.

                    That's a terrible analogy. This isn't about using the same story on different objects. I already said that. Multiple times. Why do you keep insisting it's otherwise? I'm really trying to understand why you insist on repeatedly misrepresenting what we say even after it's been pointed out to you multiple times. You're very smart. I can't figure out why you have trouble with this concept.

                     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 28th, 2009 @ 4:49am

    Learn at the feet of the master, Suzanne.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 28th, 2009 @ 9:05am

    The point of the "Significant Objects" Project

    My understanding of the project is just to show that creating a good story enhances an object's salability.

    The idea WOULDN'T work if the same story is used for every object. So the story itself is actually less infinite than the objects being sold because those objects are essentially random trash that the storytellers picked up to try to sell on eBay.

    So it's the story, not the object, that is the scarce item. As soon as it becomes copied, it isn't valuable anymore, and the object becomes less valuable, too.

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 28th, 2009 @ 10:08am

      Re: The point of the "Significant Objects" Project

      My understanding of the project is just to show that creating a good story enhances an object's salability.

      Right. The *story* is infinite. They're not selling the story, and anyone can read the story for free. It's infinitely copyable at no cost. It's infinite.

      The *object* is a scarce good.

      The POINT is that the infinite good, even though available entirely for free, makes the scarce good more valuable (just as music -- infinite good -- makes a concert -- scarce good -- more valuable).

      The idea WOULDN'T work if the same story is used for every object.

      I don't know why you keep bring that up. No one said it did. And we said that. So why do you bring it up again?

      The point is that if you properly use the infinite good to make a specific scarce good more valuable, you can do that. It doesn't mean you can apply the infinite good to all scarce goods or that you should.

      So it's the story, not the object, that is the scarce item.

      No, that's simply incorrect. The story is infinite. It's an attribute: can it be infinitely copied at no cost? Yes? It's an infinite, rather than scarce good. Done. No questions, no debate. It's a fact.

      As soon as it becomes copied, it isn't valuable anymore, and the object becomes less valuable, too.

      No. As soon as the story is copied, it drives more people to see the auction, and drives up the price of the scarce good.

       

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        Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 28th, 2009 @ 10:14am

        Re: Re: The point of the "Significant Objects" Project

        We are disagreeing on the definite of infinite.

        You are saying anything that can be copied endless numbers of times is infinite.

        I'm saying that something that loses value as soon as it is copied isn't infinite. It's finite because it's useful once and then gets discarded.

        We're talking about the difference between infinite and ephemeral.

        While you are using the "significant objects" project to support your view of economics, I'm saying I have a different view.

         

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          Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 28th, 2009 @ 10:24am

          Re: Re: Re: The point of the "Significant Objects" Project

          I meant to say the "definition of infinite."

           

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          Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 28th, 2009 @ 12:26pm

          Re: Re: Re: The point of the "Significant Objects" Project

          You are saying anything that can be copied endless numbers of times is infinite.

          Yes.

          I'm saying that something that loses value as soon as it is copied isn't infinite. It's finite because it's useful once and then gets discarded.

          I have to be honest. I don't understand what point you're driving at here. What's losing value here? Who cares if it gets discarded? In fact, a good part of the *value* of an infinite good is that it can be discarded. It's Carver Mead's concept of "waste is good" when you're dealing with abundance.

          We're talking about the difference between infinite and ephemeral.

          Being ephemeral has nothing to do with it.

          While you are using the "significant objects" project to support your view of economics, I'm saying I have a different view.

          But what is that view that you have? I'm not "using" Significant Objects -- it IS an example of what we talk about.

          I guess I"m just confused about your point. You keep saying that we're wrong, but then you don't say why or how.

           

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    Matthew Cruse (profile), Oct 28th, 2009 @ 9:46am

    Missing the point, again

    Yes, but your thinking about it backwards, or sideways or some such. The idea here is-get some object (scarce good, cost is irrelevant) have some people write stories (scarce good of authors time/creativity) sell good story in physical form with said object (scarce goods) [from the ebay website:The significance of this object has been invented by the author; see SignificantObjects.com for details. (Winning bidder also receives a copy of Matthew J. Wells' story about this object. This story is the winner of the Significant Objects/Slate Story Contest. ]the story, once published electronically on the internet is now an INFINITE good-cost doesn't matter, it can be copied and republished a million times at essentially no cost-to anyone. The idea is not to enhance a products salability with a story-No one cares about a $0.75 jar of barbeque sauce, they care about the ephemeral things of Wow, that's a cool story, wow what a cool idea, wow I get bragging rights because I have this thing that this guy wrote a really cool story about, Wow, when this guy is famous (maybe) 10 years from now, I helped support him / get him started when I participated in this really cool experiment thing. It's all of these wows at the end that are the real scarce goods, they are hard to duplicate and almost impossible to fabricate, but in the end they are the payoff that everyone wants-the consumer the artist the manufacturer, the publisher, because these ephemeral Wows are what drive everything else.

     

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      Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 28th, 2009 @ 9:55am

      Re: Missing the point, again

      I'm lost. I don't know what you are saying.

      Here's the relevant quote from the Significant Objects project.

      "A talented, creative writer invents a story about an object. Invested with new significance by this fiction, the object should — according to our hypothesis — acquire not merely subjective but objective value. How to test our theory? Via eBay!"

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 28th, 2009 @ 11:56am

        Re: Re: Missing the point, again

        Testing it via Ebay is sort of the stupidest part of the whole deal, because you can sell almost anything on ebay for a buck. With a little marketing, you can make a rare bag of bear poop into something scarce and significant ("Actually poo from Winnie the Pooh!"). It's a meaningless concept at best.

        In the end, it is trying very, very hard to ignore the basic fact: Good stories are still a very scarce commodity, and the method by which they are distributed to the masses doesn't change that scarcity one iota.

         

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          Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 28th, 2009 @ 12:08pm

          Re: Re: Re: Missing the point, again

          Yes, I think we agree that the story is the scarce commodity.

          It's kind of interesting that if each story is unique and you buy the object linked to it, then I suppose you can claim you now own the story. Sure, other people can read about it for free, but you are the only one who now owns the object linked to the story.

          I'm trying to clarify that the story isn't infinite. It can be repeated, but if it is being used to sell something, it only works if the story is used once. After that, the story can't really be used again to sell another object. It's a one-time thing.

           

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            Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 28th, 2009 @ 12:30pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Missing the point, again

            Yes, I think we agree that the story is the scarce commodity.

            It's not scarce. There is no limit on the story.

            It's kind of interesting that if each story is unique and you buy the object linked to it, then I suppose you can claim you now own the story. Sure, other people can read about it for free, but you are the only one who now owns the object linked to the story.

            No, you don't own the story. No one can own the story. But your last sentence is the entire point we're making. The *scarcity* is the *object linked to the story*. It's the object that's scarce, but it's the infinite good (the story) that makes the object valuable.

            The infinite good makes the scarce good more valuable. That's it. That's what we've been saying all over again.

            I'm trying to clarify that the story isn't infinite.

            But it is. You just said it was!

            It can be repeated, but if it is being used to sell something, it only works if the story is used once.

            Argh! Suzanne. You're driving me crazy. No one said it was to be used multiple times to sell multiple objects. Drop the strawman. Drop it. Stop repeating it. No one is saying that.

            What we're saying (again and again and again and again) is that the story itself can get passed around at no cost to the producer, and the more people who read it, the more that SCARCE good (the object linked to the story) is valued. The infinite good increases the value of the scarce good it's linked to. Let me repeat: The infinite good increases the value of the scarce good it's linked to.

             

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              Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 28th, 2009 @ 12:37pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Missing the point, again

              There's a big difference. Getting a good story requires talent, which isn't infinite. The sold object has little value without the story. So it is the story which has value. And the value can only be transferred to the object if it is transferred once, which is why the story isn't infinite.

              The reason there is a distinction is to place a value on the act of creating. By saying the story is infinite and the object has value, you are suggesting that the story in and of itself doesn't have a salable value because it can be infinitely reproduced.

              Creative people who are selling their services don't necessarily want to be told that they only way they can be paid is to link it to "stuff." That's the issue with musicians being told that to monetize music they need to sell t-shirts or collectibles.

              Good stories, as other people have said, are scarce. The fact that they can be reproduced does not make them any less scarce. The original, which in this case, is linked to the object, is scarce because presumably it is one-of-a-kind.

               

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                Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 28th, 2009 @ 12:48pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Missing the point, again

                There's a big difference. Getting a good story requires talent, which isn't infinite.

                Yes! Exactly. We agree. The *creation* of a NEW story is a scarce good. But the story, ONCE CREATED, is infinite. This is fact. It's not arguable. It's not opinion. It's fact.

                The sold object has little value without the story. So it is the story which has value.

                No, it's the story that's making the *object* valuable.

                And the value can only be transferred to the object if it is transferred once, which is why the story isn't infinite.

                No, the story is infinite. The object is scarce. We're going around in circles here. I don't know why you keep saying that the story needs to be applied to multiple objects. NO ONE SAID THAT. Why do you keep repeating it? No one's buying the story. They're buying the object which is made more valuable by the story.

                The reason there is a distinction is to place a value on the act of creating.

                Yes, the *act* of creating is scarce. The content, created, is not.

                By saying the story is infinite and the object has value, you are suggesting that the story in and of itself doesn't have a salable value because it can be infinitely reproduced.

                Yes. I am saying that. Trying to sell infinite goods is a losing proposition. That's the whole point.

                Creative people who are selling their services don't necessarily want to be told that they only way they can be paid is to link it to "stuff."

                Selling *services* is selling something scarce. The *service* is scarce. The *output* is not.

                You don't have to link it to something tangible, just to something scarce -- including the ability to create new content. Again, the creation of new content: scarce. The content, once created: infinite.

                That's the issue with musicians being told that to monetize music they need to sell t-shirts or collectibles.

                Why is that an "issue"? I don't care what musicians "want" or "don't want." I care about basic economics. Look, I want you to give me a million dollars to keep discussing this with me. You won't. Why not? The economics don't make sense. What I want is meaningless. What the economics say is important.

                Good stories, as other people have said, are scarce.

                No, the creation of them is scarce. The content itself? Not scarce.

                The fact that they can be reproduced does not make them any less scarce.

                Yes, actually, it does. Entirely. The very definition of scarcity is that it's a limited resource. The more they're reproduced, the less scarce. By definition. This is not arguable. Please stop arguing it.

                The original, which in this case, is linked to the object, is scarce because presumably it is one-of-a-kind.

                Yes, the OBJECT is one of a kind, because it's linked to the infinite good. That's what's being sold.

                 

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                  Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 28th, 2009 @ 12:59pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Missing the point, again

                  What I am talking about is context. The story and the object are linked, so it is a one-of-a-kind offering, so it is not infinite.

                  Like I said, you can have your opinion, and I can have mine. I don't see anything infinite in the "Significant Objects" project and you do.

                  I see non-physical objects and physical objects, but not infinite items. Something that changes context as soon as it is repeated is not, in my mind, infinite.

                   

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                    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 28th, 2009 @ 1:13pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Missing the point, again

                    What I am talking about is context. The story and the object are linked, so it is a one-of-a-kind offering, so it is not infinite.

                    Right! THE LINK is what's scarce, because it's linked to an object. The CONTENT is not scarce. The fact that the content is infinite is what makes the link more valuable. The fact that anyone can read the story for free (because there's NO COST to reproduce) attracts a wider audience and drives up what people are willing to pay for the scarce good.

                    Like I said, you can have your opinion, and I can have mine. I don't see anything infinite in the "Significant Objects" project and you do.

                    Ugh. Suzanne, this not *opinion*. I'm talking about economic FACT. We can have a difference of opinion on if this is smart or if it's a good idea or if it really works well. That's an opinion. But there is no "opinion" on whether or not the content is infinite. It is. It's like saying we differ on the opinion of whether or not the sky is blue. There's no opinion to debate. There is only fact.

                    I see non-physical objects and physical objects, but not infinite items. Something that changes context as soon as it is repeated is not, in my mind, infinite.

                    You are confusing the link between the infinite and the scarce good with the infinite good itself.

                     

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                      Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 28th, 2009 @ 1:20pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Missing the point, again

                      "Ugh. Suzanne, this not *opinion*. I'm talking about economic FACT."

                      Economics offers all sorts of different ways to determine value. It's not as scientific as you suggest.

                      Again, I would argue that non-physical is not necessarily the same as infinite.

                      Reproducible for free also does not make something infinite.

                      Even with a conversation, saying the exact same words can convey different meanings given context, who is saying them, vocal inflection, etc.

                       

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                        Matthew Cruse (profile), Oct 28th, 2009 @ 1:56pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Missing the point, again

                        Reproducible for free also does not make something infinite. Yes, it does Again, I would argue that non-physical is not necessarily the same as infinite. No one said it did. The point is an infinitely reproducable story, due to it's nature of being infinitely reproducible has added value to a scarce good to raise it's price from 75 cents to $51 currently. These are facts. Is anyone, at this point, willing to pay for the story by itself, probably not. Is anyone willing to pay for the object? definitely, at least 14 people. Infinite good on it's own=little or no value to consumer. Finite good on it's own=little value to consumer ($0.75). Finite good + Infinite good = Value ($51.00 a 6800% increase in value). Which was the point of the original post in the first place

                         

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                          Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 28th, 2009 @ 2:04pm

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Missing the point, again

                          But musicians are encouraged to sell the reverse. Presumably the stuff Amanda Palmer auctions off, like a postcard, is of value because it comes from Amanda Palmer.

                          Dirt, touched by Elvis, is worth more than dirt from your garden. It isn't the dirt that is valuable (and dirt, we could argue, is infinite). It's the association with celebrity.

                          I think this is a great topic because you guys present view, and I present another. It's all about meaning and value. That's kind of the crux of it, isn't it? It isn't really about infinite goods. It's about what holds meaning for someone. If someone famous touches an infinite good, it's valuable because of the touch. The infinite part is really irrelevant. Have the celebrity touch your skin. Touches are infinite. Who they come from aren't. So therefore the touch itself isn't infinite.

                          I suppose that's my point. Why bother to throw "infinite" into the discussion of the "Significant Objects" example? It's irrelevant. This example really hasn't very little to do with digital reproduction and the fact that the story can be retold.

                           

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                            Matthew Cruse, Oct 28th, 2009 @ 3:20pm

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Missing the point, again

                            Right, that's what we've been saying. But you have to bring the "infinite" in to the discussion so that you can figure out what and how to monetize. Trying to monetize the wrong thing leads to frustration and failure. Monetizing an infinite good like a story that has been published to the web (i.e. a news story) is extremely difficult because it is infinitely reproducible at no cost, therefore the consumer at large is not going to want to pay for it. Monetize the community that you build up around a newspaper/ blog/ fan group and you have a way to leverage the infinite good int revenue. I am not an economist or business person, but I will try my best at an example. Value of news story online to consumer=$0. Value of access to group of people that regularly frequent a news website to advertiser=$$. See the news story has 0 value of itself because it is infinite. The attention of a group of potential consumers has value to a seller of goods, because that attention is finite. If the newspaper would quit trying to sell me something I won't pay for, but instead focus on selling my attention to an advertiser, then the newspaper stands to make money, as long as the cost of getting my attention (i.e. the cost to produce the story) is less than than what an advertiser is willing to pay for that attention.

                             

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                              Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 28th, 2009 @ 3:42pm

                              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Missing the point, again

                              There are times when giving something away for free increases the value of something else. I just don't think this particular example illustrates that. Presumably the people buying these objects on eBay have not been exposed to the buzz about this project, or they would already know these stories aren't real.

                              I am interested in the "Significant Objects" Project, but for other reasons.

                              I'm exploring the marketing of music and art in my own blog posts.

                              http://brandsplusmusic.blogspot.com/2009/10/art-of-music-merchandising.html

                              The concept of reaching the greatest number of people with free digital stuff works in some cases, but actually works against other products. It's a mass marketing approach to give away stuff for free. Sometimes you increase an item's value by limiting access to it and not telling the masses (e.g. the high end art market, a private club you can join by invitation only). Widespread publicity is one route. But creating an elite, even secret market, is another approach.

                              In fact, I would suggest that the more some items are promoted via unlimited digital sharing, the more some people will avoid them. To paraphrase Groucho Marx, "Any club that would have me, I don't want to join."

                               

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                            Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 28th, 2009 @ 3:47pm

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Missing the point, again

                            Matthew has it exactly right. Suzanne, you still seem to agree in principle, but every time you get specific you seem to get confused.

                            But musicians are encouraged to sell the reverse.

                            I don't know what you mean by this.

                            Presumably the stuff Amanda Palmer auctions off, like a postcard, is of value because it comes from Amanda Palmer.


                            Exactly. The postcard (scarce) is made more valuable by the celebrity (infinite) of Amanda Palmer.

                            It's all about meaning and value. That's kind of the crux of it, isn't it? It isn't really about infinite goods.

                            It is very much about the infinite goods, because that's how you make a scarce good much more valuable, by somehow linking it to an infinite good.

                            If someone famous touches an infinite good, it's valuable because of the touch

                            No, you have it backwards. If someone famous touches a *scarce* good, it makes that scarce good valuable due to the famous person's celebrity (infinite).

                            The infinite part is really irrelevant.

                            It's incredibly relevant. It's the very key.

                            Have the celebrity touch your skin. Touches are infinite. Who they come from aren't. So therefore the touch itself isn't infinite.

                            No, the touch is scarce. The celebrity status is infinite.

                            I suppose that's my point. Why bother to throw "infinite" into the discussion of the "Significant Objects" example?

                            Because it explains exactly how this works. It's the key to the whole deal. It's incredibly relevant. It's everything.

                             

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                              Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 28th, 2009 @ 3:57pm

                              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Missing the point, again

                              I still don't get your point. The "Significant Objects" Project works just fine without any need for infinite goods. All people have to do is go on eBay, read a story about an object, and then decide if they want to buy it.

                              The story doesn't function as an infinite good in this case because it isn't really being reproduced endlessly.

                              Most of the time you seem to suggest that free digital copies will function as a marketing devise, and once you have generated an audience, you can sell them stuff. That's how celebrity works. But celebrity status doesn't have to be created through infinite goods.

                              The infinite goods idea is one way to make the best of a reality (ie., that people are sharing stuff online anyway) so let's exploit that. I come from a marketing background and am advocate of sponsorships, so you are talking to a believer.

                              But the Significant Objects Project doesn't strike me as illustrating mass marketing at all. Again, I don't see infinite goods in this example, nor do I see it working because of it. Trying to use this to make your point seems to be stretch.

                               

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                                Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 28th, 2009 @ 6:51pm

                                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Missing the point, again

                                I still don't get your point. The "Significant Objects" Project works just fine without any need for infinite goods. All people have to do is go on eBay, read a story about an object, and then decide if they want to buy it.

                                What? The story IS the infinite good. The project doesn't work without the infinite good. I don't see why you're saying it doesn't need the infinite good. Without it, there is no project.

                                The story doesn't function as an infinite good in this case because it isn't really being reproduced endlessly.

                                Yes. It is. Anyone can read the story. Anyone. At no cost. It's the infinite good. That's why it works. It's now about how many times it IS reproduced, but how many times it CAN BE reproduced at no cost.


                                Most of the time you seem to suggest that free digital copies will function as a marketing devise, and once you have generated an audience, you can sell them stuff. That's how celebrity works. But celebrity status doesn't have to be created through infinite goods.


                                Celebrity status IS the infinite good. You seem confused over what an infinite good is.


                                But the Significant Objects Project doesn't strike me as illustrating mass marketing at all. Again, I don't see infinite goods in this example, nor do I see it working because of it. Trying to use this to make your point seems to be stretch.


                                We're talking in circles here and I simply cannot understand why. The story is an infinite good. That's not debatable. Here's the definition of the infinite good: does it cost anything to reproduce? No? It's an infinite good. The story is an infinite good and this is a PERFECT example of using infinite goods to make scarce goods more valuable.

                                Without the infinite good, the objects aren't sold for nearly as much. This isn't a stretch at all, this is about as perfect an example as I've seen.

                                Suzanne, you keep insisting that the sky is not blue. No matter how many times you say that, it doesn't change the fact that the sky is blue. The story is an infinite good. That's not an opinion, it's a fact. Stop pretending that's an opinion.

                                 

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                        Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 28th, 2009 @ 3:29pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Missing the point, again

                        Economics offers all sorts of different ways to determine value. It's not as scientific as you suggest.

                        Yes, but we're not arguing how to determine value. We were discussing what was infinite and what was not. If you want to debate the value, we can, but that's different than what we were discussing.

                        Again, I would argue that non-physical is not necessarily the same as infinite.

                        There is no argument. It's a factual statement.

                        Reproducible for free also does not make something infinite.

                        Yes, it does.

                         

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 28th, 2009 @ 4:31pm

    Spreadable Media

    I think the "infinite goods" needs more nuances to be useful to people. If people are going to use it, discussing the hows and the whys are important.

    I just saw this and it might be of interest.

    http://www.fastcompany.com/blog/sam-ford/conversation-convergence/spreadable-media-cure -viral-marketing

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 28th, 2009 @ 8:00pm

    Infinite good?

    "What? The story IS the infinite good. The project doesn't work without the infinite good. I don't see why you're saying it doesn't need the infinite good. Without it, there is no project."

    "Celebrity status IS the infinite good. You seem confused over what an infinite good is."

    "The story is an infinite good. That's not debatable. Here's the definition of the infinite good: does it cost anything to reproduce? No? It's an infinite good. The story is an infinite good and this is a PERFECT example of using infinite goods to make scarce goods more valuable."

    I still don't agree with your definition of "infinite." Something that is freely copyable is not necessary infinite. Making an exact copy but taking it out of context doesn't make it infinite.

    If a famous person tells me a story, and then I tell the story to someone else, while the words are the same, the context is not. You are suggesting that everything that can be reproduced online is therefore infinite. Not if it is taken out of context. If Obama sends me a personal email and then I forward it, I was still the only one who got if from Obama. The people who see what I forward them aren't getting the same experience.

    Making multiple reproductions of something digital does not make it infinite.

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 28th, 2009 @ 8:42pm

      Re: Infinite good?

      I still don't agree with your definition of "infinite." Something that is freely copyable is not necessary infinite. Making an exact copy but taking it out of context doesn't make it infinite.

      Ugh. You keep lumping in the context. The *context* is part of the scarcity. That's the whole POINT. The context is what links the infinite good to the scarce good and makes the scarce good more valuable. But that doesn't change the fact that the infinite good is infinite. You point out, correctly, that the context is important. It is. It's the link. But it DOES NOT change the fact that the story is infinite. It is.

      You are wrong. I'm sorry, I can't say this any clearer. You cannot "disagree" here because there's nothing to disagree with. It's not an opinion. The stories are infinite. Period. Done. Over with.

      If a famous person tells me a story, and then I tell the story to someone else, while the words are the same, the context is not.

      Exactly. But the story is still infinite. As you just demonstrated. But the story, without the context (the link) doesn't have the same sort of value. Exactly. That's the WHOLE POINT I KEEP REPEATING.

      You LINK (context) the infinite (story) to the scarce (object) and then you have greater value.

      You are suggesting that everything that can be reproduced online is therefore infinite. Not if it is taken out of context.

      The context is SEPARATE. That's the link! That's the link! That's what links the infinite to the scarce. And, yes, it is infinite. Stop saying it's not. You are wrong. Flat out wrong.

      If Obama sends me a personal email and then I forward it, I was still the only one who got if from Obama

      Exactly. But the email is infinite. It can be copied. But the context (the link) between the infinite and the scarce is where the value is derived.

      Making multiple reproductions of something digital does not make it infinite.

      My goodness, Suzanne. Your smart. Stop saying dumb things. It's not "making multiple reproductions." It's the fact that it *CAN* be copied infinitely at no cost. That makes it infinite.

      This is really getting tiresome. You're a very smart person. I'm having trouble understanding why this is so difficult for you to get. You seem to recognize that the story and the context are two separate things, but you then ignore it. I don't get it.

       

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        Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 28th, 2009 @ 8:50pm

        Re: Re: Infinite good?

        "But the story is still infinite. As you just demonstrated. But the story, without the context (the link) doesn't have the same sort of value."

        The story absolutely does not have to be copied to be of value. The "Significant Objects" Project could exist (and versions do) in your neighborhood antique store. It's been conducted for centuries in bazaars. People make up a good story to sell something.

        The infinite good has nothing to do with why this experiment works. The "infinite" is irrelevant. It's a story that can be told to one person to persuade that person to buy it. It could be at a garage sale.

         

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          Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 28th, 2009 @ 8:55pm

          Re: Re: Re: Infinite good?

          What you want to refer to as "infinite," I might call "intangible." A story is an intangible in that it doesn't usually have a physical existence. But I don't view all intangibles as infinites.

           

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            Matthew Cruse (profile), Oct 28th, 2009 @ 10:30pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Infinite good?

            OK, My last comment on this thread. Mike has said it and I have said it, and I'm not sure if you are being deliberately obtuse to get a reaction, or if the concept does not sink in.
            infinitely reproducible at no cost equals infinite good (pretty much any DRM free digital media, the DRM is an artificial constraint on an infinite good)
            Some physical object or certain other intangible but measurable item (i.e. a persons time or effort) is a scarce good. If I add an infinite good which a consumer is unwilling to pay for on it's own (a song, story, image in a digital medium) to a scarce good (such as a performers time, an autographed newspaper clipping, a limited lithograph) I can leverage one to exact a higher price for the other. That's it. infinite good+scarce good=more money. Period end of story. Your own example of a bazaar is perfect. scarce good (old chair) + infinite good (cool story) = more money. Yes, the story is infinite. It can be reproduced at almost no cost by anyone that has heard/seen it. I don't know any other way to put it. So, I hope this gets through, because I give up.

             

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              Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 28th, 2009 @ 10:46pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Infinite good?

              I'm not trying to be obtuse. I'm trying to explain the psychology of art purchases; The infinite good doesn't help sell most of them. Usually you see the object and if you like it, you buy it. The Significant Objects project suggests that if you add a story (which is perceived to be unique to that object), then that will enhance the sale.

              You are trying to suggest that if something isn't physical, then therefore it is infinite. Not necessarily so. The infinite good model doesn't work with all sales.

              I see you wanting to equate infinite with intangible on the assumption that if there is no physical cost to make something, it is therefore infinite. There are many things that have no physical existence that can't or shouldn't be produced infinitely.

              I've actually enjoyed this conversation quite a bit because it gives me more material to discuss some of the issues involved in moving music into an arts-based economy. I can't always expand on my ideas here, but I do in my blog.

               

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                Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 12:48am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Infinite good?

                I'm not trying to be obtuse. I'm trying to explain the psychology of art purchases; The infinite good doesn't help sell most of them. Usually you see the object and if you like it, you buy it. The Significant Objects project suggests that if you add a story (which is perceived to be unique to that object), then that will enhance the sale.

                Which is what Matthew and I are saying. By adding the infinite and *linking* it to a scarce good, you increase what you can sell that scarce good for. I don't see why you keep insisting it's not true, when you seem to admit it's true at the same time.

                You are trying to suggest that if something isn't physical, then therefore it is infinite. Not necessarily so. The infinite good model doesn't work with all sales.

                No, not if it's "not physical." Only if it can be infinitely reproduced at no cost (a definition I have put forth multiple times in this thread, so I don't know why you keep trying to define it differently -- it's really quite frustrating).

                Yes, infinite goods are often not physical, but that does not mean all "not physical" goods are infinite. The definition of infinite is if it can be copied at no cost. That's it. As Mike Ho notes, in traditional economics terms it's "non-rivlarous, non-excludable." That's an infinite good. If you can link that to a scarce good, you can use the infinite good to increase the price people will pay for the scarce good.

                And, the Significant Objects story is a PERFECT example of this.

                I see you wanting to equate infinite with intangible on the assumption that if there is no physical cost to make something, it is therefore infinite. There are many things that have no physical existence that can't or shouldn't be produced infinitely.

                Again. This is killing me. You keep trying to redefine what we said. NO ONE SAID THAT INFINITE MEANS NON-PHYSICAL.

                Simply put (again): Can it be copied at no cost? Yes? It's infinite. Period. Stop trying to redefine it. It's incredibly frustrating to explain this to you, and then have you say something entirely different.

                Access to a person is non-physical. But it's not infinite. Time is non-physical. But it's not infinite.

                 

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                  Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 7:00am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Infinite good?

                  Can it be copied at no cost? Yes? It's infinite

                  No matter what, all copying involves some cost. Time, equipment, connectivity, whatever. Nothing is absolutely free.

                  It's basically putting on the blinders and ignoring all the fixed costs, and looking only at marginal costs. So even if downloading that song only too a few minutes, that is a few minutes out of your monthly internet bill that might have been spent elsewhere. Thus, the copy, while extracting no direct money from your pocket, still had cost.

                  Perhaps you would like to redefine as "no immediate out of pocket costs that the average person would consider in obtaining the copy"?

                   

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                    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 7:47am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Infinite good?

                    "No matter what, all copying involves some cost. Time, equipment, connectivity, whatever. Nothing is absolutely free."

                    A significant detail is that there is skill in storytelling. As others pointed out here, not everyone does it well.

                    So if you want to figure out the true cost, you need to budget for the training that people need to be good storytellers and the fact that each object needs a new story.

                     

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                    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:45am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Infinite good?

                    No matter what, all copying involves some cost. Time, equipment, connectivity, whatever. Nothing is absolutely free.

                    Those are fixed costs. That has no impact on whether or not an item, once created, is infinite. None. This is first week of economics stuff.

                    It's basically putting on the blinders and ignoring all the fixed costs, and looking only at marginal costs.

                    Right. That's what you're supposed to do.

                    So even if downloading that song only too a few minutes, that is a few minutes out of your monthly internet bill that might have been spent elsewhere. Thus, the copy, while extracting no direct money from your pocket, still had cost.

                    Wow. You really are stretching. That's a cost to the user, not to the producer. We're talking the marginal cost to the producer.

                    Please, please, please, try to understand basic economics.

                     

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            Michael Ho (profile), Oct 28th, 2009 @ 10:41pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Infinite good?

            Well.. if you just don't like the word "infinite" -- how about we just replace "infinite" with "non-rivalrous and non-excludable"...?

             

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              Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 28th, 2009 @ 11:00pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Infinite good?

              "Well.. if you just don't like the word 'infinite' -- how about we just replace 'infinite' with 'non-rivalrous and non-excludable'...?"

              Sure. I can live with that. And that seems to be the main focus of much of Techdirt: Don't make laws and sue people for sharing. I don't even bother to get into the RIAA discussions because I see it as a dead issue.

              But the realities of making a living at music involve a lot of details that never get discussed here. So that's where I try to fill in the blanks.

              The SIgnificant Objects Project is important in that it shows people like to buy something with a story. But it wouldn't work if they thought it was a story applied to everything. It works because they perceive it as a unique story. That's why I say the "infinite" part is irrelevant to its success. The story is so firmly attached to the object that I don't see it as a separate item.

              I'm interpreting the significance of the Significant Objects Project differently than Mike, and nothing that has been brought up so far has changed my mind about that.

               

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          Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 28th, 2009 @ 11:44pm

          Re: Re: Re: Infinite good?

          The story absolutely does not have to be copied to be of value.

          I didn't say it *had* to be copied, just that it *could* be copied. That's all.


          The infinite good has nothing to do with why this experiment works. The "infinite" is irrelevant.


          No, it's not irrelevant at all. It's the key. You couldn't do this with a scarce good alone. It's the only reason those objects are being sold for so much. That's the whole point.

          It's a story that can be told to one person to persuade that person to buy it. It could be at a garage sale.

          Yes. But the story is still infinite. It's the story that makes people buy the scarce good for more. The fact that it's "at a garage sale" doesn't change the fact that it's infinite.

          The. Story. Is. Infinite.

           

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            Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 7:35am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Infinite good?

            What I see is that you are locked into promoting an idea, that you attaching an infinite good to a physical object increases sales of the physical object. You are so attached to the concept that you look for examples that reinforced that.

            That's like saying that standing next to someone and talking about the object is more effective than just handing someone the object.

            I guess my reaction to that is, "Duh." There's no real principle here. It's like saying, "Human interaction improves sales." Again, duh.

            Again, sometimes I jump into the Techdirt discussion when I see no attempt to define nuances. Nuances make a ton of difference. Talking about "infinite goods" without really explaining the psychology of selling and how selling luxury items is different than mass marketing items doesn't help people put this into practice.

             

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              Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 8:19am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Infinite good?

              Sorry about the typos.

              I assume my point is clear, though.

              Here's how it should have read:

              ______

              What I see is that you are so locked into promoting an idea that you are saying that attaching an infinite good to a physical object increases sales of the physical object.
              ______

              Again, my point in all of my posts is that I just don't think the concept is a good example of that. There are better ones to be found than this. If you stretch the "infinite good" idea too far, it doesn't always hold up.

               

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              Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:51am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Infinite good?

              What I see is that you are locked into promoting an idea, that you attaching an infinite good to a physical object increases sales of the physical object. You are so attached to the concept that you look for examples that reinforced that.

              Suzanne, that's ridiculous. It has nothing to do with what I want to "promote." That makes no difference to me. This is a PERFECT example of using an infinite good to make a scarce good more valuable. I really cannot see why you are so blind to this. It's *exactly* what we talk about.

              That's like saying that standing next to someone and talking about the object is more effective than just handing someone the object.

              What? That makes no sense to me.

              I guess my reaction to that is, "Duh." There's no real principle here. It's like saying, "Human interaction improves sales." Again, duh.

              Heh. If it's such a "duh" why are so many people failing at it?


              Again, sometimes I jump into the Techdirt discussion when I see no attempt to define nuances. Nuances make a ton of difference. Talking about "infinite goods" without really explaining the psychology of selling and how selling luxury items is different than mass marketing items doesn't help people put this into practice.


              If you want to talk nuance, you have to at least get the basics right, and you aren't doing that. You keep insisting that infinite goods aren't infinite, and you are wrong.

              If you understand how infinite goods link to scarce goods, that helps you understand the psychology. Economics and psychology are two sides of the same coin. But you are trying to ignore the economics for some reason that I cannot fathom.

               

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 7:40am

    How about this?

    This is what I've seen in Techdirt.

    1. Sell stuff people want to buy.
    2. Storytelling helps to sell stuff. We'll call storytelling an infinite good.

    Okay, is that in a nutshell?

     

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      nasch (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 8:47am

      Re: How about this?

      I don't think you can really fit it into a nutshell, but I would say there are two main (and many many smaller) points:

      1. To get popular and rich, 1. connect with fans and 2. give them a reason to buy something (CwF + RtB)

      2. Trying to sell non-rivalrous non-excludable (since you seem to have a problem with the term "infinite") goods is in the long term a losing proposition, so if you have them it's better to spread them as freely and widely as possible to make a scarce good more valuable. Then sell the scarce good.

       

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        Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 9:03am

        Re: Re: How about this?

        "1. To get popular and rich, 1. connect with fans and 2. give them a reason to buy something (CwF + RtB)."

        Giving the people the reason to buy is the basis of all business. I think getting a book by Kotler would be a good place to start. The concept CwF + RtB really doesn't tell us much.

        "2. Trying to sell non-rivalrous non-excludable (since you seem to have a problem with the term "infinite") goods is in the long term a losing proposition, so if you have them it's better to spread them as freely and widely as possible to make a scarce good more valuable. Then sell the scarce good."

        The "spread-them-out-freely" makes sense if people are copying the stuff anyway. That's why I don't bother to talk about recorded music. People don't want to pay for it, so you got to live with it. Why fight it?

        But there is no reason to build a business model on spreading stuff for free when people aren't trying to copy it and if multiple copies don't enhance the business plan.

        But there's a ton of clutter these days. So the "spread-them-out-freely" adds more clutter. Therefore, if you can do something that is different than that, it makes sense to explore it. I think exclusivity is probably a good angle. How about a social network that is secret and requires a special invitation to join?

        If you are in music, how about not recording anything and have shows that you can attend only by invitation?

        There was a club in NYC that I used to go to that was hidden in the back of a non-description antique store. You had to go through a secret door to find it. At the club they gave out matchbooks that said, "Tell only your best friends about it." It was always packed.

         

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          Matthew Cruse (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 10:32am

          Re: Re: Re: How about this?

          the example you gave of the secret club is a good example of CwF+RtB. The secret part is the CwF. It's that shared connection that makes it so special. There are plenty of "secret" clubs in every city-the ones that no one knows about therefore they haver no customers therefore they go out of business. The same with bands. I think I see what you are trying to drive at, If I make my music so special and so exclusive, then people will pay for this exclusive invitation only show. But the problem is, how do you get noticed in the first place? I could go out tomorrow and annonce that Matthew Cruse and The Dark Helmets (Sorry DH, had to do it) are performing tomorrow night in an invitation only show at the Blue Oyster Bar. Great, who was the band again? never heard of them, guess I'll go see Foghat instead. But, if i turn around and release this great song to my friends, and they give it away to their friends, and so on and this buzz builds, then I do the same thing-Now we're cookin'. So, the infinite good (free song) leveraged the finite good (bands time) into making more money. I really don't think that there is an exact type of parralel in the art world that would work. Except that there are a whole lot of artists out there that are looking for recognition too. You are right that there is tons of clutter, bbut the "spread them out freely" is a way to rise above that clutter, to be seen as something special by getting your name ou there.

           

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            Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:08am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: How about this?

            But the problem is, how do you get noticed in the first place?

            Good question. If you approach it the way art galleries or exclusive clubs do, you develop a targeted invitation list or hold a private party and invite people.

            It doesn't work so well for a young band that doesn't know anyone, has no network, and has no social skills. In that case, the band may need to team up with someone who already has a collection of the right friends.

            It's also possible to go to places like art galleries and see if you can do a cross-promotion with them. If you develop a rapport with the owner and the music is a good fit, you can perhaps play at an event or two to gain access to their client base.

             

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          Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 12:07pm

          Re: Re: Re: How about this?

          But there's a ton of clutter these days. So the "spread-them-out-freely" adds more clutter. Therefore, if you can do something that is different than that, it makes sense to explore it. I think exclusivity is probably a good angle. How about a social network that is secret and requires a special invitation to join?

          Again, this is a perfect example of what we talk about, even if you seem confused by it.

          *Access* is a great scarcity. It's one we talk about all the time. But what makes that access more valuable? The music (the infinite good). So, again, you are proving our point even as you insist you're disproving it.

          If you are in music, how about not recording anything and have shows that you can attend only by invitation?

          But who's going to attend a show if they don't know about the music? Why would you do that?

          There was a club in NYC that I used to go to that was hidden in the back of a non-description antique store. You had to go through a secret door to find it. At the club they gave out matchbooks that said, "Tell only your best friends about it." It was always packed.

          Right, because access is a scarcity, but no one would have cared at all if the music that was played their sucked.

           

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            Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 12:33pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: How about this?

            The music (the infinite good).

            If you only play live and don't make any recordings, it isn't infinite. It takes time and effort to play each time.

            But who's going to attend a show if they don't know about the music? Why would you do that?

            If my friends to a party or if I get an invitation to a VIP party, I'm going to go. If it's an exclusive event and if I anticipate getting to network with the right people, I'm going to go.

            And if there is music while I am there, I'll hear about it. In fact, quite like there won't be any mention of music in the invitation.

             

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              Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 12:43pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How about this?

              To make this even more clear. Sample invitation:

              ______
              I'm throwing a party. Just a few of my closest friends. Please come.
              ______

              If I get that from a close friend of mine, I'm going to go to that. There's no mention of hearing a band. But if a band happens to be there, then I'll hear them.

               

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                Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 1:02pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How about this?

                If I get that from a close friend of mine, I'm going to go to that. There's no mention of hearing a band. But if a band happens to be there, then I'll hear them.

                Then that's something else. That's advertising a party. I'm confused. I thought we were talking about advertising bands.

                What does an invitation to a party have to do with what we're talking about? I'm really confused again.

                 

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:56am

      Re: How about this?

      This is what I've seen in Techdirt.

      1. Sell stuff people want to buy.
      2. Storytelling helps to sell stuff. We'll call storytelling an infinite good.

      Okay, is that in a nutshell?


      No. Suzanne, that is insulting. It's not us "calling" something an infinite good. It's a fact. Why do you keep insisting that it's an opinion? I've been asking this throughout this entire thread and you just keep repeating it.

      An infinite good is not an opinion. It's not something that you "call" something. It's factual. Is it non-rivalrous and non-excludable? Yes? It's infinite. Done and done. Stop arguing.

      Then, we discussed the model in great detail here:

      http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20070503/012939.shtml

      It's about recognizing what stuff is infinite and what is scarce, and using the infinite goods to make the scarce goods more valuable via a link.

      It is not "sell stuff people want to buy" it's "sell scarce stuff, made more valuable by infinite stuff -- and use that infinite stuff wisely to keep increasing the value of the scarce stuff." If you can't understand the difference between what's scarce and what's infinite, then you'll never properly understand what makes people willing to pay more for an item. You'll never recognize how to properly set up a business model.

      And, yes, the Significant Objects project is a perfect example of this no matter how confused you might be.

       

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        Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 12:36pm

        Re: Re: How about this?

        An infinite good is not an opinion. It's not something that you "call" something. It's factual. Is it non-rivalrous and non-excludable? Yes? It's infinite. Done and done. Stop arguing.

        Sorry. Conversations are not infinite. If something is shared in a conversation (which can be a story), it isn't infinite.

        Your definition of infinite doesn't fit all the examples you try to apply it to.

         

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          Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 1:06pm

          Re: Re: Re: How about this?

          Okay, I'll grant you this.

          The alphabet is an infinite good since you can use the alphabet without cost. So all conversations using letters are infinite. Now we can agree. :-)

          Yes, if you string a group of letters together to form words and those words are used to sell an object, then you have applied an infinite good to sell an object. Why yes, that's a pretty fundamental principle.

          Similarly, all musical notes are infinite goods. So all music using musical notes are infinite goods. :-)

           

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          Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 1:07pm

          Re: Re: Re: How about this?

          Sorry. Conversations are not infinite. If something is shared in a conversation (which can be a story), it isn't infinite.

          A conversation (spoken) between two people is not infinite. You are correct. That's because it's excludable. We said, infinite goods are non-rivalrous and non-excludable. Why do you keep insisting on putting words in my mouth. I never said a conversation was infinite. But a recorded conversation available in digital format is infinite.

          Your definition of infinite doesn't fit all the examples you try to apply it to.

          Ok. I'm going to start banging my head on my desk. You're just making stuff up now. I thought we were having an intelligent conversation and now I get the feeling that you're just messing with me.

          My definition of infinite does, in fact, fit the examples I apply it to. You are the one who keep making up wrong definitions (non-tangible, ephemeral, "whatever you call it"). I made the definition clear: something that can be copied at no cost, or something that is non-rivalrous and non-excludable.

          I don't understand why you keep trying to make up stuff we didn't say. I'm really beginning to wonder if you're just trolling.

           

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 1:16pm

    A conversation (spoken) between two people is not infinite. You are correct. That's because it's excludable. We said, infinite goods are non-rivalrous and non-excludable. Why do you keep insisting on putting words in my mouth. I never said a conversation was infinite. But a recorded conversation available in digital format is infinite.

    My original point in the entire conversation was that the Significant Objects project does not involve sharing a story multiple times. It is conducted like a conversation. There is no inherent publicity (and therefore no inherent marketing) value in treating the story as an infinite good.

    I'm going to use the project in my own writing about marketing art and music memorabilia and my conclusion is the opposite of yours. That's what I have been trying to say and I have been giving my reasons why. It works because the story ISN'T copied. That's a very important point to me.

    We just disagree. It's been an interesting exchange.

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 2:37pm

      Re:

      My original point in the entire conversation was that the Significant Objects project does not involve sharing a story multiple times.

      *Bangs head*

      I give up. Suzanne, you are being obtuse. On purpose. I explained to you IN THIS THREAD at least half a dozen times that it has nothing to do with how many times the story IS shared, but whether or not it CAN BE copied at no cost.

      That's it. I don't know why you insist on changing the definition over and over again.

      There is no inherent publicity (and therefore no inherent marketing) value in treating the story as an infinite good.

      That is incorrect. The story itself IS the inherent publicity.

      You keep insisting that by "infinite good" we mean you have to share it widely, even though I have said over and over and over and over again that this is not true. I really don't understand why you need to keep repeating this.

      Let me try one more time and then I'm giving up:

      * Infinite good is based on IF it is copyable at no cost. It has NOTHING to do with how you use it. How you use something does not define if it's an infinite good. The only thing that defines it is *is it non-excludable and non-rivalrous*? If yes? Then it's infinite. Done. Period. Stop trying to deny it.

      * The fact that it wasn't used to spread the story around doesn't change the fact that it's an infinite good and it's connection to the scarce good made it more valuable.

      You keep insisting that it's not infinite if it's not spread, but that's got nothing to do with it.

      I'm going to use the project in my own writing about marketing art and music memorabilia and my conclusion is the opposite of yours. That's what I have been trying to say and I have been giving my reasons why. It works because the story ISN'T copied. That's a very important point to me.

      For the love of basic common sense: SUZANNE, IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH HOW MANY TIMES THE THING IS COPIED. We told you this. In nearly every comment. Why do you keep repeating it? I don't believe you are dense. So stop acting dense.

      I give up. I cannot discuss this with you any more. I've never seen someone so insistent on misrepresenting things. It's really quite incredible.


      We just disagree. It's been an interesting exchange.


      No. We don't "disagree." You can disagree over opinions. You cannot disagree over facts. You are trying to disagree over facts.

      We can argue over the relative importance of the infinite good to the scarce good. But you cannot say that the story is not infinite. Again, this has been explained repeatedly and you keep doing it.

      I really find this conversation incredible in that you don't actually seem to read what is written. Stunning.

       

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 2:48pm

    . On purpose. I explained to you IN THIS THREAD at least half a dozen times that it has nothing to do with how many times the story IS shared, but whether or not it CAN BE copied at no cost.

    How does it help this project?

    In what way does the fact that it can be shared enhance the project? That's what I don't get. I don't see the connection.

     

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      nasch (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 3:05pm

      Re:

      In what way does the fact that it can be shared enhance the project?

      It doesn't. What the people do with it enhances the project, or fails to enhance it. For example, say they sold the trinkets and then after you buy it someone calls you and reads the story to you over the phone. That is not doing a good job leveraging the story to make the trinket more valuable. Now let's say they post the story online so you can read it first, and then decide to buy the trinket. That has a shot at making the trinket more valuable, especially if the story is good. Does that all sound reasonable? I'm not saying that is the ONLY way they could run this, only that it is a reasonable way to do it that may work well.

      Now, can you see that the reason they can do it this way is because it doesn't cost them anything to have someone download and read the story? Use the zero-cost good (the story) to help make the scarce good (the trinket) more valuable.

       

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        Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 3:15pm

        Re: Re:

        Now, can you see that the reason they can do it this way is because it doesn't cost them anything to have someone download and read the story? Use the zero-cost good (the story) to help make the scarce good (the trinket) more valuable.

        But you can say that about every online communication. You can also say that about the telephone. You can say it about a person-to-person exchange.

        I think the only reason this project is online is that eBay presents a convenient way to sell something and see what people will pay for it. You could do it just as well at an auction house.

        I'm pointing out these fine points because I am writing about how to sell stuff. I want to explain the nuances.

         

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          Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 5:06pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          But you can say that about every online communication. You can also say that about the telephone. You can say it about a person-to-person exchange.

          A person to person exchange only impacts those two people, so you don't get the price bid up.

          I think the only reason this project is online is that eBay presents a convenient way to sell something and see what people will pay for it. You could do it just as well at an auction house.

          An auction house would limit -- greatly -- the audience.

           

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 5:05pm

      Re:

      In what way does the fact that it can be shared enhance the project? That's what I don't get. I don't see the connection.

      It's because anyone can see that story -- at no cost -- and that helps them bid up the scarce good. If only one person saw that story, they wouldn't pay much for the good. The fact that people bid this product up is because of the story.

       

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 2:52pm

    Are you saying this?

    Are you trying to say that everything that is digital is inherently better than non-digital items because it can be copied for no additional cost?

    The fact that something can be shared is better than something that can't be even if it ISN'T shared?

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 6:20pm

    A person to person exchange only impacts those two people, so you don't get the price bid up.

    An auction house would limit -- greatly -- the audience.


    Okay, these two points are relevant in respect to where you might sell the object. Putting it online does give you more exposure. You are likely to generate more bidders this way. (I have, on the other hand, told some musicians not to market on eBay because putting their stuff up for bid could send the wrong message about them. If your stuff goes for too little money and everyone sees that, it's hard to ask for more money in the future.)

    So, yes, I agree that if you want the widest possible number of people to bid, then putting it on eBay is a wise choice. I would say that whether it was a car or a bike or whatever.

    The storytelling part of the experiment, where you make up a unique story to go along with each item, reinforces two thoughts for me:

    1. Good copywriters have value.
    2. Creating a good story is better than not creating a good story.

    Now, I don't associate either copywriting or storytelling with infinite goods per se since they have existed well before the Internet. If you do, that's fine.

    What I will emphasize when I write about the Significant Objects Project is that people like to feel they are getting an item that has a unique story. So the more you can make each item that you sell sound personal or unique, the higher the price you can ask for it. Give people an emotional connection to what you sell. If, other the other hand, people get wind of the fact that your story might not be sincere, then you may have undercut that personal touch. So if you are depending on storytelling to sell objects, I'm not sure to what extent you want lots of people to know these are fake stories.

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 8:21pm

      Re:

      Okay, these two points are relevant in respect to where you might sell the object. Putting it online does give you more exposure. You are likely to generate more bidders this way. (I have, on the other hand, told some musicians not to market on eBay because putting their stuff up for bid could send the wrong message about them. If your stuff goes for too little money and everyone sees that, it's hard to ask for more money in the future.)

      No one said that this means everyone should put everything up on eBay.

      Suzanne, why do you keep putting words in my mouth that inaccurately reflect what I'm saying.

      We were just discussing what worked about this -- and it's the infinite good making the scarce good more valuable.

      1. Good copywriters have value.
      2. Creating a good story is better than not creating a good story.


      Right. If you are going to use an infinite good to make a scarce good more valuable, the infinite good needs to be *good*. Bad music doesn't get people to concerts, good music does. Good stories increase the price people will pay for objects.

      Once again, it's the infinite good making the scarce good more valuable.

      Now, I don't associate either copywriting or storytelling with infinite goods per se since they have existed well before the Internet. If you do, that's fine.

      Suzanne. It's not about who associates what with what. It's about fact. I have to ask seriously, why you keep insisting this is not the case? What does the fact that stories exist before the internet have to do with anything

      What I will emphasize when I write about the Significant Objects Project is that people like to feel they are getting an item that has a unique story

      Right. It's the story (infinite good) that makes the object (scarce good) more valuable. If you just emphasize "have a good story" you're missing the point.

       

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 8:49pm

    It's about fact

    Right. It's the story (infinite good) that makes the object (scarce good) more valuable.


    I honestly don't perceive what you consider to be a fact, to be a fact. But it's hardly worth arguing over.

    And I suppose I will continue to interpret the term "infinite" in a different way than you do. I don't see the "potential" to be infinite as the same as "being" infinite. You do. It's your term and you can use it as you like.

     

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      SteelWolf (profile), Oct 30th, 2009 @ 1:44pm

      Re:

      I just copy and pasted the story. It didn't cost me anything to reproduce. Now it's "being" infinite. Happy?

       

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        Suzanne Lainson (profile), Oct 30th, 2009 @ 4:54pm

        Re: Re:

        I just copy and pasted the story. It didn't cost me anything to reproduce. Now it's "being" infinite. Happy

        I guess I just take the term more literally than that. I wouldn't say that making a few copies is infinite. It has the potential to be infinite, I suppose. But I'd put the number more in the millions at least.

        infinite |ˈinfənit|
        adjective
        1 limitless or endless in space, extent, or size; impossible to measure or calculate : the infinite mercy of God | the infinite number of stars in the universe.
        • very great in amount or degree : he bathed the wound with infinite care.
        • Mathematics greater than any assignable quantity or countable number.

         

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