Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The “Profound Truth” about the Global Information Revolution – Part 2

I think the answer to "why can’t businesses understand that the world has changed so much in the past decade (regarding the freedom of information) that they need to evolve drastically to survive?" is simple – with the advent of this new scale of information sharing on the internet, these “information-age” corporations are simply confused. They’re still hung up on lost opportunities. They don’t have the time to wonder about how they can survive in a world that doesn’t want to pay as much as before (or anything at all!) for information/media/ideas/content. And they don’t seem to realize they’re facing a losing battle.

Everybody wants to Change: Yahoo, Sony, Apple, Universal... Is it too late?

So what are the answers? If a company’s copyrighted content is being “pirated” on the internet, what can it do? Should it just turn around and give it away? Should it consider reducing the amount that’s charged for the content in the hope that people will buy it? Should it take a cynical view and get out of business while it’s still profitable? How does one monetize “free”?

The answers are difficult and complex – and haven’t been figured out yet. Human greed is just as powerful an emotion for us as the need to share and communicate. Everybody wants to be rich and have a comfortable life, and will take a beating to protect anything they create. So the disadvantages seem to overrule the advantages of “free” to a content creator. Take the open source movement as an example – we don’t hear of any billionaires who made their fortunes writing open source software.

Examples of leaked software source code, stolen databases of people’s personal information, and IP violations happen all over the world, everyday. If we make laws to prevent this, are these laws enforceable? Should we even bother? Should society take a VERY serious look at copyright law and discuss a more modern framework to protect authors? The world doesn't seem to want to care about this right now.

But, have you noticed? The information revolution is already taking place. Individuals and their small businesses have already figured out ways to get noticed, give away content for free AND earn money on related products and services. To me, online comics are the best example of this, with certain open source software coming in a close second. The biggest names in the media industry have announced that they’re dropping DRM too. Where will this go? How will the information economy evolve? I’m still searching for answers.