There is a persistent conceit stemming from the IT arrogance we continue to see around us, but it’s one that most IT professionals are finding real problems with — the notion that storing and distributing digital goods is a trivial, simple matter, adds nothing to their cost, and can be effectively done by amateurs.
This notion of free data emerged recently in a comment thread here, but has been a consistent theme among dew-eyed idealists about publishing — that digital goods are infinitely reproducible at no marginal cost, and therefore can be priced at the rock-bottom price of “free.” Of course, this argument is implicitly cost-based, while the information economy works more rationally if it’s value-based, so the argument is fundamentally flawed at it outset. But, even if taken at face value, the argument doesn’t align with reality.
Digital goods have costs.
I’m not talking here about just things like the cost of electricity, which should be enough on its own to disabuse idealists of their vacuous notions of what makes the world go around. I analyzed this at length in another post earlier this year. Even beyond just their power requirements, digital goods have particular traits that make them difficult to store effectively, challenging to distribute well, and much more effective when handled by paid professionals