Stewart Brand, 1984, at the first Hacker’s Conference:
On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it's so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other.
I’m sure you’re familiar with one small part of Brand’s statement. We’ve all heard it, out of context, “information wants to be free.” Contextually, Brand was saying, correctly, that the cost of transmitting information is continually getting cheaper, almost to the point of being “free.”
What I want to talk to is Brand’s reflection on the value of information: “The right information in the right place just changes your life.”
That’s pretty powerful stuff.
As we build CrowdNe.ws and talk to people about what we’re doing, they often focus on the pricing. How will you charge? How much will you charge?
Traditionally, media was priced according to format. A newspaper cost so much, a book’s price fell within pricing categories, CD’s all cost about the same, even music on iTunes is generally the same.
In Post-Medium Publishing, September 2009, Paul Graham, founder of Y Combinator, wrote,
Almost every form of publishing has been organized as if the medium was what they were selling, and the content was irrelevant. Book publishers, for example, set prices based on the cost of producing and distributing books. They treat the words printed in the book the same way a textile manufacturer treats the patterns printed on its fabrics.
And Graham asks, “Why didn’t better content cost more?”
Brand said it in another way, “On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it's so valuable.”
There are things that you care about. You want to know more about those things. The value you place on that knowledge should determine how much you pay for it.
When we say CrowdNe.ws is Rebooting the News, we mean it.