Here's another good example that affects Internet policy. We hear a lot about "free content" on the Web, and the idea that users are getting something for nothing. "They don't want to pay for their content." And yet, most people access the Internet by paying an Internet service provider $60, $70, $80 a month. You think of a company like Comcast. The user pays them $80 a month and watches television, and we say, "Oh. They're paying for content." They pay $80 a month for access to the Internet and we say, "Oh. They're getting their content for free." Something is clearly wrong with that picture!------------------------------------
In fact, the reverse is actually true. The free rider is Comcast. If people watch television, the Cable company has to pay money downstream to content providers. When people watch YouTube, or use Facebook or Twitter, or just surf the Web, they pay nothing for content. So it's not users who are getting the free ride, it's these big companies. That's just one of many implications that come to light when you start thinking about the Clothesline Paradox.
This was my keynote yesterday at #oscon , the O'Reilly Open Source Convention. I talk about what's wrong with our economy - the ecosystem failure that occurs when companies think it's OK to take more value out than they create - and contrast that with sharing economies like open source software. I use the analogy of "the Clothesline Paradox" - Steve Baer's wonderful account of how solar energy is left out of our energy accounting, treated as if it were a tiny slice when in fact it is the root of all - to explore how creative economies create value that they don't capture.
I talk about my conversation with Hari Ravichandran of hosting company Endurance International Group, which led to a partnership to study Bluehost customer data to examine the impact of open source software and web hosting on small business as an example of how value created but not captured by innovators shows up elsewhere in the economy.
I also talk about evidence of economic acceleration coming out of other sharing economies.
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