Wednesday, December 30, 2009

List Of Ten


List of the past years' best and worst are inevitable around the end of December. When it becomes the business of revisiting the first decade of a new millennium, the lists turn even more ubiquitous and voluminous. Of the many that I have read in the last few weeks, this list of ten from The Atlantic is my favorite.

I don't entirely agree that all of the ideas are American but they most likely found fertile ground in this country to blossom and were definitive of the decade. Numero Uno :  Everything is Free (or It Should Be) is clearly a big theme of the decade and it is not only Gawker Media and Huffington Post  that have "found fortunes in aggregating and repackaging free news".

Further afield from the likes of Gawker and HuffPost, are rag-pickers of all stripes making a living  from ferreting out content from free on-line sources that they can rehash, recycle, repackage and sell as compilations web or print. Since a book in print still enjoys cachet with folks who write, those with the marketing smarts and business savvy are able to turn this to their advantage. In return for credit to the author (a bio, a permalink and a token of appreciation), they assume the rights to what they will do with the content. The author (or garbage generator to keep the narrative in synch with rag-pickers) may find this a fair trade (or not) depending on the reach and size of their on-line audience.

If only two people including their mother had read a piece of writing now on its way to  being in a book, they figure it's not such a terrible deal. The rag-picker has a vested interest in making that book sell and for their trouble, they get to keep most if not all of the proceeds.There is certainly a lot of effort that must go into the selection process given the sheer volume of content that is out there so it can be argued they are only being compensated for their work.  

The right to free that is increasingly becoming implicit can cut both ways depending on which side of the equation you find yourself in and sometimes it is impossible to be certain of the side or to know if you are winning or losing in the deal.

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