Sunday, February 6, 2011

how should collective action fit into our economy?

"As an entrepreneur/programmer who makes a good living from writing and selling software, I'm dumbfounded as to why developers write applications and then put them up on the Internet for free. You've found yourself in one of the most lucrative fields in the world. A business with 99% profit margin, where you have no physical product but can name your price; a business where you can ship a buggy product and the customer will still buy it."

I've been puzzling over this for a long time. How does our economic system deal with the many areas of our economy that have gone over or are going over to collective action?  Journalism is an example of this, where you can get good reporting from activists and bloggers for free. Video production that used to require a college degree can now be done by your 4th grader. Programming is of course a big one.  Who needs Microsoft when you have Linux?  

What is this doing to our economy?  It is draining jobs over to the volunteer side of our country.  Dammit, people!  Why are you doing all these things for free when you should be charging and keeping our economy healthy!  Money needs to circulate!  What does this say about what kind of a people we are when we're willing to give away our work... oh, wait.  That actually says something pretty good about us.  We want to share freely, even though it's a product of our work.

But what happens to all those journalists, videographers, and programmers who can't compete with the free work of hobbyists, activists, and the like?  What kind of hit to our country's economy does this make?  Is there a way to incorporate the product of volunteerism and collective action into our economy?  Do we need to make a big alteration to account for this stuff?

And after writing the above, I found this great video:

From this, then, collective action and volunteerism should be incorporated into a business.  I'll have to ponder that a while.

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