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Clay Shirky has an interesting article on Fame vs Fortune: Micropayments and Free Content
Quote: “The fact that digital content can be distributed for no additional cost does not explain the huge number of creative people who make their work available for free. After all, they are still investing their time without being paid back. Why?
The answer is simple: creators are not publishers, and putting the power to publish directly into their hands does not make them publishers. It makes them artists with printing presses. This matters because creative people crave attention in a way publishers do not.”
Comment: I’m not certain that I agree with the conclusion of the author (that micropayments (“small digital payments of between a quarter and a fraction of a penny”) won’t succeed). There is a market for value-added content (content is free…but the way it is packaged generates the value – i.e. in the educational market, if learning objects are free…then the designation of an institution, the process of supporting and leading learners through the content, etc. is where value is generated). Someone will always be willing to pay for some type of content…if they see value. If a corporate executive feels that a certain news site provides keen insight into the functioning of the marketplace, she/he will be prepared to pay (even if the content is freely available)…it’s the aggregation of content that provides value. As information continues to multiply…and people continue to be overwhelmed, the value of content will not be the content itself, but the filtering of the content. And that’s where people will charge…and others will pay.

One Comment

  1. LionKimbro wrote:

    Patrick Farley ( and Scott McCloud ( have both written comics that I think are good enough to pay 10-25 cents for, and that are hard to find similar match to my interests elsewhere.

    So there you go. I’m 35 cents broke, but I’ve got great comics.

    Seems like a winning solutions to me.

    Monday, September 8, 2003 at 10:02 pm | Permalink