February 17, 2007

_Time_: "Getting Rich off Those Who Work for Free"

They said it, I didn't: "Getting Rich off Those Who Work for Free"

"That's because one of the most interesting questions in business has become how much work people will do for free."

In a way, it's very amusing, as if the writer is pitching the audience, don't think this article is about some granola crunchy flower-child dreaming about living in harmony with one another - it's really about the red-blooded capitalism of how big business can exploit all those flower-children dreamers just waiting to be fleeced with the right sales-pitch.

As usual, substantial critiques are to be found in some way off the beaten path forum marginalized comments:

Having arrived at your article, "Getting Rich Off Those Who Work for Free", from an Open Source portal, I regret (a little) to inform you the Free/Open Source software (FOSS) types are spurning your association of FOSS with anarchy. And I must say that it is a very poor comparison. Not only are the majority of FOSS developers not working for free, there is a strong hierarchical structure in most projects -- meritocritous to be sure, but strong nevertheless.

This also connects to the wager with Nick Carr on the topic. There's a certain mythology which is peddled widely, and very hard to counteract, since those myths serve the interests of the marketers.

Bonus link: Dave Rogers:

The problem with democracy is not an inherently technological one. We have all the technology we need right now. What we don't have is the self-awareness necessary to govern ourselves in a manner consistent with our stated values and ideals.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in cyberblather | on February 17, 2007 11:58 PM (Infothought permalink)
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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"The column revolves mostly around the work of Yale Law School's Yochai Benkler, a modern-day, more-or-less capitalist Kropotkin."

Excuse me while I throw up.

Posted by: anonymous at February 18, 2007 02:39 AM

It's good that people in the mainstream are starting to publish pieces like this. A deeper awareness is necessary.

Fact of the matter is, these tools (which Philly Future is a similar one) can do much to help bring people together - but they can be machines for exploitation.

I'm starting to get the feeling I'm being excluded from a certain clique because I've asked the *wrong* questions and am not part of the elite you spoke of in your earlier pieces.

I don't know if there is any meat to those bones - but I'm starting to really, really feel that way.

That realization - along with my aching back - is well - rather depressing to tell you the truth.

Posted by: Karl at February 18, 2007 11:23 AM

There is a great sig on floating around on Slashdot - don't know the source:
"In the 80's capitalism triumphed over communism, in the 90's it triumphed over democracy"

I do my share of digital sharecropping at Slashdot.
I do my share of testing Firefox.
I also help out at some other places when I can.

Last week I got invited to participate in a forum because the admin liked my style of comments at a place I hang out. So my writing has value to someone.

What is in it for me?

A great time waster for when I am busy waiting.
I can ask a few (even very) technical questions and get them answered.
I also get a few good laughs from the mozillazine forums.
But I see no cash or beer tap coming out of my computer.

At Technocrat you can get paid for any accepted article submitted.
I don't bother and have submitted (and had accepted - not hard) stuff anyway.

This comment:
"meritocritous to be sure"
This is not always the case - someone may have a great idea and plan, but doesn't mean they shouldn't move on and let others manage it. You won't a list of failed or forked projects? Evolution at work.

From http://www.calacanis.com/2006/07/18/everyones-gotta-eat-or-1-000-a-month-for-doing-what-youre/
"Before launching the new Netscape I realized that Reddit, NewsVine, Delicious, and DIGG were all driven by a small number of highly-active users"
At what point does some enterprising programmer write a bot that can get a $1,000 month at least for a while? Maybe setup the id to start with and let the bot do the work? The bot doesn't need to pass a Turing test, all it needs to do Eliza like is regurgitate on the userid's fave themes with the latest links.

Kropotkin's writing are a good read even if you disagree completely with his conclusions - his work on co-operation vs competition (from studying nature in Siberia) is welll written and interesting.

The question:
as I am likely to have a lot of free time soon, is the cash for comment offer invitation only?

Posted by: tqft at February 18, 2007 04:51 PM

Karl: My sympathies. This is what exponential distribution *means*.

tqft: When I get bought-out or go IPO, I will issue you stock-options at the appropriate valuation :-).

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at February 21, 2007 01:08 PM