The culture of free!

The world of IT is a relatively fast moving one. New trends and technology come thick and fast, and with every new trend or technology there follows a host of new terms, phrases, acronyms, and of buzz words.
One term that I have heard cropping up more and more lately, is “the culture of free”. It’s fairly easy to guess what this term might relates to, but why has it started to crop up now, and is a ‘culture of free’ a good thing, or could it have a downside?
While today’s internet generation may not remember, there was a time when you had to purchase browser software. Then one day someone came up with the idea of giving it away free, and a culture was born, and it didn’t stop at software, web based services (file sharing, storage, instant messaging, email and social networks) soon followed suit, and more recently data owner’s have started to share their data freely too.
There is even a ‘Culture of Free movement’, founded by Lawrence Lessig (a lecturer at Stanford University and author of ‘Free Culture’. The movement which is often associated with Creative Commons, promotes the freedom to distribute and modify creative works, using the Internet as well as other media. Lessig and his followers object to overly restrictive copyright laws, often completely rejecting the concepts of copyright and intellectual property altogether, claiming it creates a “permission culture”. Others, most prominently Andrew Keen, (an academic, author and technologist) criticizes the ‘Free Culture’ ideals, referring to them instead as the ‘Cult of the Amateur’.
When you think about it, the internet is fundamentally built on a culture of free, with all of its knowledge freely available, but blogger Leo Babauta, points out – we must distinguish between “free” as in you don’t have to pay for it, and “free” as in you are free to distribute and use the information.
So why would bloggers, photographers, film makers, citizen journalism, musicians, illustrators or authors, use things like creative commons licensing to distribute their work freely? Well they’re working on the premise that reaching a larger audience may bring returns in other ways, whether its through donations, public speaking engagements, lucrative commissioned work or just improving their profile.
Can there really be a downside to free? After all everybody likes getting something for nothing and the people giving it away seem happy. Well I guess the answer to that depends on your point of view. Some would argue that when things are given away freely it erodes their value and others would argue that the ‘culture of free’ is eroding the very skills and standards that we have spend decades building up. buzzword

The culture of free!

I’ve been rated on blogged

I got an email from the people at blogged this afternoon, to say that they had recently rated my “World of  IT Blog” with a score of 8.3.  This means I made it into the top 10 in the Information Technology Section alongside sites like the awesome Tech Crunch.

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The rating is based on frequency of updates, relevance of content, site design and writing style.

This is immensely flattering for me, not only because i’m human and everyone likes to hear that their peers appreciate their work, but also because I always struggled in English classes at school, (spelling was never my strength, in fact I failed my o’level english a couple of times before eventually passing).

I started the world of IT blog about a year ago, mainly to see how the technology worked and to experiment with various forms of social networking because it was becoming more and more important to my work in IT. But have kept it up because I kind of enjoy writing it (althouth lately I have not had time to update it as often as I would of liked). Hopefully this rating will be the motivation I needed to update more regularly.

During the last year have been asked to write a couple of pieces for technology section of the local paper (The Journal), I have enjoyed this immensely, its been great to work with pro writer and to get their feed back on my articles (my thanks to Lewis Harrison). I have also been lucky enough to get to preview and offer advice on a series of articles on web 2.0 by Justin Souter in b.daily , this was another enlightening process, watching how ideas grow and develop as we discussed them. I like to think that these experiences have helped improve my writing generally and are improving the experience for you the reader.

I’d like to finish by thanking Blogged for the rating, the many other Tech Bloggers out there (you’re doing a great job!) and of course you my audience for your support and feedback (do please leave a comment and let me know what you think of the blog and any improvements or change you’d like to see!)

I’ve been rated on blogged