Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Free things this week!

It's been an amazingly busy week just for covering cool stuff. This Wednesday the Media Evolution conference was held in Malmö, which seemed to promise to be a somewhat mediocre thing with international tech celebrity Chris Anderson of Wired and "the Long Tail" to attract attention. Turned out Chris held an excellent presentation on the topic of "free", but the following panel debates were very good as well! And everything you could follow online in realtime, and discuss in the backchannel (Whats Next got an interview):

Slides from a similar talk at Nokia World 2007:

View more presentations from inkeunsong. (tags: free_pricing)

Chris Anderson, who wrote about "the long tail", about building business not on the best sellers, but "all the rest" of the customers and products, spent most of his talk speaking about what curious things happens in the market when the price of some things continuously decrease, approaching zero.

I am really fascinated by how much you can get for free from people ("crowdsourcing" as it sometimes can be described) and find it a largely under-examined topic. There are several different distinguishable ways for something to be free, and pleading for everyone to pitch in (like how people contribute to wikipedia) is almost the most crude of them. More cleverly executed, I love how flickr allow people to geotag their own pictures, and it will become part of a great, huge, multi-purpose globally browsabe database of pictures. music and concert databases is also not bad in its simplicity of contribution, there's no complex creative article-writing involved. Similarly, did you know that whenever you type in a reCAPTCHA you for free help digitize tricky parts for the New York Times and the Internet Archive archive? When you type in that review of your favourite sushi place, you for free help Ted Valentin build quite a valuable database he couldn't imagine paying editors to do for him. There are so many great ways to get something for free...

It by the way occured to me the other day that there are not only two meanings of the word "free", usually explained as "free as in speech" and "free as in beer". There's also "free as in parking spot" :-) . Let's break it down a bit:

free as in beergratistasuta
free as in speechfrivaba
free as in parking spotledigvaba

... no wonder the humorous effect of my father asking my father-in-law whether he was "free" (as in vacation) now. "Of course I'm free (as in speech), I'm not in prison am I?!"

Speaking of free, the Pirate Bay case is stepping into court the next week. The guys have a blog of the court case which isn't updated since April last year though, and brokep's blog, and they seem pretty set on whipping up as much of a media storm as possible, and not letting themselves get convicted easily, see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here

Then on Thursday morning it was time for OpenCoffee Club Tallinn (facebook group here) in Ülemiste City Mercado, where I didn't hear or participated much in any pitches, but met some great people! I will also hopefully soon write about my idea of "Compassionate BookCrossing" which I set loose there.

Friday evening it was time for the regular Swedish Tallinn meetup in Hell Hunt pub. Imagine I've lived here two years, and haven't found the time or opportunity to visit them before! Anyway it was a bit of a strange experience to hear such genuine Swedish guys ranting about sports and whatever, but there were some very cool people there and quite possibly some new friends!

Finally, this has been the week for TED 2009 (blog here and conference here), and the speaker list has been truly impressive! Bill Gates, Shai Agassi, Tim Berners-Lee, Oliver Sacks, I am exhausted just thinking about it. Bill Gates' talk was released already, the others will be one by one during the year. It will be so much fun, subscribe to the feed!

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