Boris Mann’s Personal Blog

Aug 2020

Digital Abundance and creator compensation

Kyle Mitchell writes The Truth is Paywalled But The Lies Are Free as commentary to Nathan J. Robinson’s editor’s note in Current Affairs of the same name. “Quality” journalism is paywalled and the rest is free?

This point by Robinson on membership models seems key:

a podcaster who sells their product on Patreon rather than giving it away but filling it with mattress and “box-of-shit-a-month” ads has an important kind of freedom: they only have to please the audience, not the sponsors.

“Open Source”, funding, and digital works available at no cost have many parallels in industries beyond software, including journalism.

Kyle points out that not all creators should expect to be compensated just because they are creators:

I deserve…no compensation whatever for the bad musical improvizations, repetitive doodles, or unfunny or dead-end software libraries I churn out from time to time. Everyone, including me, should be fine with this.

Also, that in areas of creative work, especially those available digitally, “giving away” work may be the best strategy:

I happen to believe that in most areas of creative work, and in most adjacent industries, giving more away for $0 online would improve outcomes for most players, overall. Our business instincts and well-worn patterns haven’t quite kept up with the times, and never do.

I’m thinking a lot about digital abundance lately in this same context.

Read the whole thing. You can also sign up on Kyle’s Artless Devices forum if you want to discuss this further.