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Links for January 14th

A little something extra…

I’m always fascinated by the concept of digital sharecropping – it’s the dark side of “crowd sourcing” and goes something like “let’s get a lot people to write-up restaurant reviews for free and then sell ourselves to Google for $500M.”

For as much use as I get out Yelp every week, it’s tough to really condemn their digital share cropping. I write reviews there from time-to-time. I certainly find Yelp valuable and don’t want it to go away. Indeed, I want it to have even more reviews! Amazon is the same way with it’s reviews. And yet, it still troubling somehow to see people freely giving up content that makes those companies money to those two and other services.

I’m not really worried about lowering the barriers for amateurism and dilettantes somehow bringing down our esteemed cultural thunderload, but I do tend to feel that most “share-croppers” (myself included) are in a weird, economic situation. It’s sort of like reverse “piracy,” really: companies getting free stuff from their customers.

With this ever present conflict in my head, then, it was nice coming across the current round of “is the web ripping us off” commentary, as always, associated with the release of a new book, Jaron Lanier’s You Are Not a Gadget. Check out the associated links below (here and here), they’re nice reading for the topic of “free as in Internet.” You might recall his 2006 essay in a similar area, “Digital Maoism: The Hazards of the New Online Collectivism.” I’m looking forward to the replies from the various Factions of Free – seems like excellent Cory Doctorow baiting! ;>

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Categories: Links.