Free owes a debt to work done by some of the early team at Wired magazine. Encyclopedia of the New Economy by John Browning and Spencer Reiss was originally published as a three-part work in Wired magazine back in 1998. Step forward a decade or so and current Wired magazine editor Chris Anderson has been explaining some of the key concepts for his readers. The Long Tail was his first effort at this missonary work and Free – The Future of a Radical Price is his latest effort.
I may be the wrong person to review Free because I am not the target audience. Alongside generation-Y, I am 0ne of those people who think that its perfectly natural to have a colossal photo album on steroids in flickr, a digital memory in delicious and the world’s largest library in Google all for free (or near as damn it).
Try explaining these economic concepts to my Mum and Dad however and you will find this tougher going: Free is aimed at people like my parents and Rupert Murdoch who don’t quite get what is going on and how best to harness it. With this audience in mind Anderson takes us on a journey of Free which is part light magazine content a la Alan Whicker and part-intellectual a la Bamber Gascoigne.
Some of the book gave me a deja vu from Anderson’s early work The Long Tail, in particular the example about the Anderson household’s preference for DIY stop-motion animation versions of Star Wars scenes on YouTube over George Lucas’ works on DVD, (I am with them on that one, the dialogue Lucas came up should put him on trial for crimes against cinema).
Anderson spins a good yarn, but chances are that if you read this blog on a regular basis, Free is way below your ‘web-literacy’ age.