"Of course, under the "traditional" way of thinking about things, some might think I should be upset that Ross is taking this concept that I created and doing something else with it."
Lol, so you created the concept of creating a fan base and then selling them crap? Or did you create the concept of creative commons? Seriously, I really like this blog, but the whole CwF + RtB thing is a bit ridiculous. I'm not sure in what parallel universe the idea of offering free content and then using the popularity and fan base in order to sell fan merchandise is a new concept, but I am new to this site so perhaps I am missing an extremely vital part of the puzzle.
Either way, I do enjoy the non-CfB+RtB spouting aspects of this site.
I didn't argue that content was worthless, I argued that it is becoming worthless. I think this whole CwF + RtB crap is a bit myopic in it's approach. You assume that all types of content have the ability to generate a fan base in the first place, or that said fan base will want to buy novelty items. Sure, it may be a viable option for some music artists or creators of some kitschy little animated indian song and dance whateverthef$%$ that whole thing is... But look around you, the vast majority of content doesn't fall under this spectrum. A lot of the content that drives the internet is just boring, yet essential informational resources. If I operate an informational website on acne treatments, am I likely to amass a fan base? As much as I'd love to command an army of pimple faced teens ready to throw down money on novelty tshirts and random zit related fan swag, I doubt it's a likely alternative business model... You apply this fact across the board and you'll forgive me if I don't believe that CwF + RtB = Content Savior.
Screw the schools having an extra $10-20k a year in tax money from selling lesson plans. We're not funding schools so that they can create part-time businesses in order to make extra money on the side. We are funding them so that they can do what they were created to do, which is to teach our students. The more resources they are putting into selling lesson plans and enforcing copyrights, the less resources they are putting into actually teaching! I'm surprised people aren't outraged that their tax dollars are being misappropriated by these schools.
The point is that quality content is not going to exist, because the advertising revenues for publishers are dwindling. It's no longer going to be economically viable to create quality content. I recently read an article about, I believe, Thomson Reuters, a leading source of business information, who now uses robots to create all of their content. A lot of the content on the web is just scraped from data or other content and mixed around using advanced algorithms to create multiple variations of the same crap.
Major sites like Facebook and Myspace, etc, even with all of their free, user-generated content, still can't find a way to monetize their sites and make profits...
Content is becoming worthless and therefore no one is going to take the time to create unique, quality content. At least not with any hope of making a profit from it in the long run.
I think this all ties in nicely with the post about innovation and social upheaval and TAM's comment in that post about how internet advertising is going to blow up because publisher's are getting shafted. It might not seem related, but I think it shows a general overall trend towards the dilution and devaluation of IP rights en mass. The simple fact is that as waves and waves of more people join the Internet, people and businesses alike are less concerned and less willing to pay for IP rights. This is true on a consumer level in the examples of sites like YouTube, music sites, bit torrent sites and the many TV show and movie sites out there. It is also evident on a business level as we see companies profiting off of others rights and how PPC advertising rates increasingly diminish for publishers across the internet. The simple message that is being sent is that the masses want entertained and they want it for free.
Now we can argue semantics all we want, but what it really comes down to is what are the measures, if any, that you propose to change the mindset of the people? Whose going to step in front of this social freight train? And what's going to happen when someone does?