The Downside and Truth About "Free"
publication date: Jul 7, 2009
I read the book, Free: The Future of a Radical Price (Hyperion) by Chris Anderson, hoping for a balanced discussion about the upside and downside of "free" content taken from both a company's and consumer's perspective and was sorely disappointed. The book is nothing more than a slapped together, superficial summary about how wonderful it supposedly is for companies to give away things for free and find other ways to soak consumers.
Free is poorly written and researched so I wasn't surprised to recently learn that much of the book's content was plagiarized from Wikipedia (the "free" online reference that is well known for being rife with errors and bias) among other sources! Waldo Jaquith of the Virginia Quarterly Review exposed the extensive plagiarism in Free. "Though reproducing words or original ideas from any uncredited source is widely defined as plagiarism, using text from Wikipedia presents an even more significant problem than reproducing traditional copyrighted text...Anderson would be required to credit all contributors to the quoted passages, license his modifications under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license, note that the original work has been modified, and provide the text of or a link to the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license. Anderson has not done any of these things in Free," says Jaquith.
I've written about "free" financial content online and exposed what goes on behind the scenes. There is no discussion about the downside for consumers of "free" in Anderson's book. I wonder why the author didn't give away his book for free? I wonder why he doesn't go to doctors who give away their service for free?