There’s lots of ‘free’ stuff out there. But none of it is free and never has been.
This blog is ‘free’. Seth Godin’s blog is ‘free’ (and, because he’s been around quite a bit, he’s got quite a few ‘free’ e-books as well). YouTube is ‘free’. Guardian Unlimited is ‘free’ (at least until they put up a paywall). LinkedIn is ‘free’ (well, the basic version anyway). You’re not paying anything to read the blogs, watch the videos, catch up with the news, argue concepts with like-minded people across the planet. (Let’s ignore the cost of electricity for the moment)
But none of this is free. Nothing is.
The cost for all of this is your time and attention. You’re spending time reading this blog. You spend time on LinkedIn. You may even invest some of yourself in the discussions, arguments, frank exchanges.
And none of the content is free to create. In fact, for creators, the costs can be even higher. They are the ones paying the bandwidth, the hosting, the electricity as they write, edit, rewrite and re-edit their posts/contributions. The creators invest of themselves and their time, bare their souls and open themselves up to criticism or – worse – to being ignored. This all costs.
You pay to partake and they pay to create. Nothing’s free.
So stop calling stuff ‘free’. No more ‘free’ blogs. No more ‘free’ news. ‘Free’ is cheap and, especially in the land of ideas, cheap isn’t good (although cheap kitchen foil may well be).
Let’s call these things ‘donations’. Time spent creating blogs, YouTube videos, writing the news is time donated to the global knowledge and experience base. Time spent reading, commenting, sharing, is donated back to the content creator to reward their investment.
These things have worth. Great worth. And they’re not ‘free’ – they are donations.
So let’s donate, rather than make ‘free’.
And, to end on a quote from Sir Winston Churchill:
“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.”
So let’s give. Let’s donate. Let’s see where that takes us. But let’s not make it ‘free’.