In this excerpt from a talk based on Douglas Rushkoff's book Life Inc.: How Corporatism Conquered the World and How We Can Take it Back, Rushkoff challenges the notion of what is free online and elsewhere, and how corporations conspire to charge for it all. Rushkoff is widely considered one of the most cutting-edge thinkers of our time, especially regarding the digital revolution.
Here is one of their conferences. It was a conference called “Free Economy” and what they were looking at was something that a lot of people have been talking about -- this notion that on the internet everything wants to become free, and what happens is things become more and more free, and in reaction to the kinds of books like Free written by Chris Anderson of Wired Magazine or The New Rules of the New Economy written by Kevin Kelly. This whole notion that everything is going to become free online as information is passed around and here is what you can do about it. So as I see it, this whole notion of free, this whole world that they brought people to come in and speak about, is really not about free. For business people, what this is about is how do we figure out how to still charge for stuff that’s free.
In other words, how do we not accept and push through and embrace this tremendous revolution and value creation and value exchange that the net has wrought, but rather how do we resist it? So when I look at the assortment of my colleagues, if you will, the great cyber thinkers, who are out there lecturing on economics these days. They pretend to be lecturing and sharing on how to embrace the revolution when actually what they are doing are sharing the most reactionary approaches to a world where things are becoming free, but they are not teaching companies, people, and businesses how to survive in and embrace what is going on. They are teaching them how to resist, how to hang on to the old economy in the face of a new economic order rather than how to maintain sustainable business practices in a new economic order.