Kevin Kelly's Eight Key Scarcities
from the business-models-for-the-next-century dept
One of the coolest things in writing out my own economic theories on new business models has been seeing some other, much smarter, folks coming up with similar thoughts at the same time. Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine and the author of “The Long Tail” is working on a book about “free.” He’ll be showing how it’s not such a crazy idea to price things at free — and it’s actually been done for ages. It should go well with the books on the number zero that inspired some of my thinking. Chris and I have had a few talks about these theories, and I can think of no one better suited to chronicle the history of “free” as it fits into the economic realm. On top of that, it appears that former Wired editor-in-chief Kevin Kelly is now working on another book that touches on the space, and he revealed some of the thinking behind it last week, noting:
“When copies are super abundant, they become worthless. When copies are super abundant, stuff which can’t be copied becomes scarce and valuable. When copies are free, you need to sell things which can not be copied.“
Hopefully that sounds familiar, just much more eloquently stated than I could put it. While I noted that, even beyond tangible goods, there are always scarcities associated with digital goods, Kelly has put together a fantastic list of eight categories of scarce goods associated with digital goods, noting that each one is “better than free.” It’s a list worth memorizing, because combinations of those eight things represent the key to a bunch of new business models: Immediacy, Personalization, Interpretation, Authenticity, Accessibility, Embodiment, Patronage and Findability.
It’s fantastic to see these ideas getting more and more serious study — and it also highlights how ideas and concepts spread. All three of us (and quite a few others as well) all came to these ideas through a combination of factors — mostly independently, I’d imagine. Some interacting with each other. Some through interacting with others. I know that much of my thinking was driven by certain professors I worked with and other books that I read — combining the different ideas I learned about into this understanding.
If you truly believed in the importance of artificial scarcity, we would all be hoarding our ideas or keeping them secret. Yet that would limit all of us. Seeing Chris and Kevin independently writing and speaking eloquently on these topics helps me both better understand the concepts myself, while also giving me an opportunity to build on their works, to incorporate their thoughts into my own writings, and to hopefully take those thoughts (combined with my own) into new and different areas as well. I can’t see how anyone could consider the idea of building on someone else’s thoughts “stealing.” It appears to be a lot more like “learning” to me. It’s the same thing that I see happening here every day as well. While there continue to be people who challenge us in the comments (often helping me to better understand my own arguments as well), I’m also constantly amazed at others who take my own arguments in the comments and make them better. We’re all building on the work done by each other, making all of us better off in the long run. It’s really quite an eye-opening experience.