Monday, June 09, 2008

The Grateful Dead as Business Pioneers...

Paul Krugman wrote an op-ed in Friday's New York Times in which he observes that because digital copies of books, music, and movies can be copied and disseminated so quickly in the Digital Age, businesses will have to "distribute intellectual property [for] free in order to sell services and relationships."

What a brilliant observation! Too bad it's been made for the past ten years.

Seriously, is Krugman, clearly oblivious to internet and business developments that most high school kids regard as common sense, really writing for the New York Times?

He states that as intellectual property can be easily copied "we’ll have to find business and economic models that take this reality into account". Close your eyes and you'd probably assume such brilliance could only come from an 8th-grader's blog.

Of course, the point Krugman is trying to make is an accurate one. It's just that making that statement in 2008 is like the New York Times boldly proclaiming that the Cold War is over. The ship has already sailed. Yes, the development of new business models is necessary, as the dynamics of media economics have experienced a systemic shift since the Internet became widely adopted. And yes, as this blog has repeated time , time, and time again, the Grateful Dead provide a terrific example of how a modified business model can actually take advantage of the new realities...

[The] most compelling illustration of how you can make money by giving stuff away was that of the Grateful Dead, who encouraged people to tape live performances because "enough of the people who copy and listen to Grateful Dead tapes end up paying for hats, T-shirts and performance tickets. In the new era, the ancillary market is the market."

Indeed, it turns out that the Dead were business pioneers.

If the New York Times wants to remain "The Paper of Record", it ought to start hiring writers who are at least moderately aware of what's happening in the world. Otherwise, articles such as this piece by Krugman only serve to inform the public of just how outdated and out-of-touch the paper has become.


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