This Shit Ain’t Free

Xiaochang Li, a researcher at MIT’s Convergence Culture Consortium, rightly wants to define what “free” means in our digitally-driven culture.

In 2008, Wired.com editor Chris Anderson proclaimed “free” to be “the future of business” (Anderson 2008) on the web. But the word “free” means to be exempt from something, so in calling these things free, we need to be able to answer the implicit questions of what, exactly, are they free from?
…something that is totally free — something given completely exempt of both cost and social obligation — is extremely undesirable in the context of any economy because it precisely does not enable any form of exchange, monetary or otherwise. A totally free gift — a true give away — is a unidirectional, one-time action, in which nothing is returned.

Her point is this shit ain’t free. What you’re reading right now on this site or via your RSS reader isn’t free. Sure, we provide the content for no monetary cost to you, but there is an exchange.
Here are some of the things you give back to AdPulp: advice, tips, new ideas, creative samples, monetizable eyeballs and the willingness to tell a friend and/or colleague about us. On exceptionally good days, you also invite us to parties, provide advance copies of books, press passes to events and conferences, media partnerships, guest posts, exclusive interviews, paid ad placement, freelance and consulting work.

About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am now head of brand strategy and creative direction at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.