Thursday, September 18, 2003

Stumbling Tongue has a good response to Clay Shirkey on Micropayments

Initial thoughts ...

- some of the examples (phone calls and SMS) are two way communication, not content. And I think the anti-micropayment argument is only made for content. You know that 2-way communication is valubale to you.

- his hypothetical example of the New York Times isn't demonstrated. And online games have been shifting from time-metered to flat rate subscription models for some time (Note Shirky advocates subscription models as an alternative)

- some of the argument runs on the "paid stuff will be better than amateurs", "people will prefer paid content from the NYT than bloggers". Not me. I'd read the bloggers and the free BBC.

- he also thinks people prefer video created by professionals to amateur content. Guess that's why Big Brother is such a failure, then.

- so free software has a lower quality interface, as any honest Linux user can report. DNFTT huh?

- the really interesting thing is his comment at the end ... we thought the professionals added one sort of value, but the amateurs do that just as well. So what other value are they adding?

(The alternative ignored here is that the professionals are going away, but that there's inertia in the system. It might take a few years as culture catches up.)

But Tongue's alternative take is interesting enough to quote in full :
This in turn suggests that editorialists make the money they do, not because of the scarcity of their talents, but because of something else. Is it ambitioin that’s really the scarce commodity? Or — to put it in more sinister terms — is it really hussle and a talent for networking? Or good pedigree?

Or viewing it sociologically, might it be that an organization feels a subliminal need to pay well for the guy whose name appears on the cover? Or to pay the guy who represents what the enterprise is “about,” even if he’s not in fact the hardest to replace?

But it’s not just editorialists and writers. One is reminded of many movie stars, who are certainly talented, but is their talent really what got them there? (Will the internet kill the video star?) Why do managers tend to get paid more than those they manage? Many glamorous jobs in the arts seem to provoke the same questions as the the fantastic salaries of Aemrican CEO’s, salaries which seem logical only to those who aspire to become American CEO’s.

If new technology dissolves rather abitrary organizational relationships that were required by old technology, it will unveil a lot about who loves the work, who does the work, and who gets the benefits.

- See also ThoughtStorms:TheAgeOfAmateurs

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