Free! article on Wired.com

I’ve been perusing an article featured on Wired.com which made the statement, “It’s now clear that practically everything Web technology touches starts down the path to gratis, at least as far as we consumers are concerned.”

This is a particularly interesting observation, and it triggered the response thought, “That’s because getting our attention is worth more money in the long run than getting us to buy something now.”   Along with “Charge the businesses… they’re the ones who have the money… hit them up for services and leave us mere mortals free of charge.”

There’s always going to be money or some approximation of it, and resource generation and investment is the foundation of capitalism. But when we reach a mass media saturation point where there’s -too- much clamor and din, the tactics which win our attention and somehow serve to stand out from the babble are the ones which will eventually lead to money. Offer the heavy hitters a track record of attracting attention, and they will pay you for the ability to tap into it. Handsomely.

So free is definitely the way to go. Because free earns buzz. Free earns attention. Heck, any college activity knows full well that offering free food is the best way to attract a crowd. (There is NO cake.) Free also earns gratitude, which is an important ‘opening act’ for any advertising or marketing schtick.

This creates an interesting symbiosis for new actors on the stage of economics, or old actors taking on different roles. There’s the business of business… sales, ROI, incremental gains, shareholders, the whole 9 yards. Then there’s the business of experience…. culture generation, constructing the infrastructure, providing the space, empowering the artists, *being* the artists, customizing the fun, providing the fun, providing the tools… authoring the experience. The two are similar, in that money is a way for both to keep score. But the money follows the crowds. Please the crowds, empower the artists, attract the traffic, create a gathering of attention… and then the money will come.

Interesting thought. We already have multinational corporations providing millions of dollars of support for superstar celebrity endorsements and high/mass media productions. Now we should see the Long Tail in action there too, with smaller corporations getting in the act of finding smaller Experience Authors and paying them for their ability to create or draw even a niche crowd.

Fun stuff. We’ll see if my idle musings turn out to be right.  Woo hoo if that’s the case, since I’m fixin’ ta become an Experience Author somehow myself, once I finish the practical training on Interactive Communications. I mean, I’ve got opinions and things to say… while I’m grateful for the QU business training, I’m also looking forward to the time after graduation when I can devote time to creating cultural displays and using the web as a free publishing medium to attract my own sort of Long Tail. Just for fun… after all, it’s no fun being just the amusement park architect… you gotta go on some rides.

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