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Internet: Giant Copy Machine

I have just found an interesting post by Kevin Kelly about the nature of the internet [^] – Better Than Free.

“Our digital communication network has been engineered so that copies flow with as little friction as possible. Indeed, copies flow so freely we could think of the internet as a super-distribution system, where once a copy is introduced it will continue to flow through the network forever, much like electricity in a superconductive wire…When copies are super abundant, they become worthless. When copies are super abundant, stuff which can’t be copied becomes scarce and valuable.”

The internet is designed for information flows. One of it’s key characteristics is that the flow will route around any blockages or rough spots.

Escher "Drawing Hands" 1948

Escher "Drawing Hands" 1948

It’s interesting having the internet spelled out as being a “giant copy machine”; but that has been done before. What makes this post interesting is the “Better Than Free” aspect.

To be better than free something needs to be unable to be easily copied, replicated or forged. Kevin Kelly identifies 8 qualities, “generatives”, that make a thing unique; among them are Immediacy, Accessibility and Authenticity.

If a supplier has a product that has one, or more, of these attributes then it maybe something that people will be willing to pay for rather than taking a free altenative. It will be by embracing these characteristics that businesses will be able to compete against free, and maybe even thrive in the future.

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