Tuesday, May 01, 2001

OpenP2P.com: The Case Against Micropayments [Dec. 19, 2000] I’ve been reading Clay Shirky’s article, The Case Against Micropayments, and I’m intrigued by his argument that micropayments cannot succeed since they require the user to simultaneously believe that the information has value, and that it doesn’t have much value. Shirky talks about the burden on the user to make the transaction decision, which devalues the user’s time. This reminds me a lot of Stewart Brand’s famous dictum (often only partially quoted): “Information wants to be free, and information wants to be expensive.”


Web users want free information, and they want expensive information. They just don’t want to pay for it, at least not by the page. You can say that Napster shows how information wants to be free, and the RIAA shows how an oppressive, corrupt industry that exploits its workers (musicians) wants it to be expensive. Check out Courtney Love’s rant in Salon for more info.