Archival heads up on future content distro from 1995!

by Matt @ Kurb on September 30, 2008

Elite archive digging from Media futurist Gerd Leonhard @

I just ran across this truly brilliant essay on – it’s from 1995 but it reads like a perfect answer to today’s issues facing content creators and providers. Esther Dyson is truly amazing – and this was 13 years ago!  So, here are some of the best nuggets – if you are in the content business, the is a must-read. Quoting Esther (links and underlines etc are mine, and go to some blog posts that I think are related):

  • The problem for providers of intellectual property in the future is this: although under law they will be able to control the pricing of their own products, they will operate in an increasingly competitive marketplace where much of the intellectual property is distributed free and suppliers explode in number
  • On the Net, there is an equivalent change in “gravity” brought about by the ease of information transfer. We are entering a new economic environment – as different as the moon is from the earth – where a new set of physical rules will govern what intellectual property means, how opportunities are created from it, who prospers, and who loses.
  • Chief among the new rules is that “content is free.” While not all content will be free, the new economic dynamic will operate as if it were. In the world of the Net, content (including software) will serve as advertising for services such as support, aggregation, filtering, assembly and integration of content modules, or training of customers in their use. Intellectual property that can be copied easily likely will be copied. It will be copied so easily and efficiently that much of it will be distributed free in order to attract attention or create desire for follow-up services that can be charged for.
  • But in the one-to-one world the Net promises, advertising will often be tailored and of higher quality. Those with more money to spend will get higher-quality advertising.
  • The likely best course for content providers is to exploit that situation, to distribute intellectual property free in order to sell services and relationships.
  • The way to become a leading content provider may be to start by giving your content away. This “generosity” isn’t a moral decision: it’s a business strategy.

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