by Mike Masnick
Tue, Dec 1st 2009 11:44am
Jay Rosen is doing a brilliant job highlighting the rather silly trend among folks who think they're "debunking" the economics of free to build up complete strawmen often identified as "the information wants to be free crowd." However, as Rosen notes, none of those critics ever links to anyone in particular or defines who they're arguing against or what it is they actually said. There's a good reason for that, of course. Usually those folks are arguing against a myth. They don't want to argue against the actual economics or what folks who understand where free fits into the wider economic landscape are actually saying. They want to throw up a punching bag (usually something along the lines of "everything must be free!") which they can knock down without anyone punching back. But that's not because they're right, but because they're arguing against a myth. No one claims everything (even information) must be free. Most (and in this group I include folks like Kevin Kelly, Chris Anderson, Stewart Brand and others) are simply pointing to the basic economic forces on information. If you don't understand what those forces are, then you will be overwhelmed by them. But simply claiming that any one in that group is saying that everything must be free is flat out wrong.
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