Tag Archives: Charles-Stross

Cheaper to meter

meteringKevin Kelly has written a typically intriguing post on ubiquitous metering: what if everything were measured, monitored, recorded, and indexed?

Imagine a world were any set of historical data was available to you. Everyone has their own favorite data stream from history they would love to have. Such a trove would transform our lives. For that reason, monitoring everything will become commonplace. Cheaply metering data, in fact, is what propels the free economy. Metering is a type of attention. Products and services will be given away in exchange for the meta data about their use. Data about the free is now more valuable than the free thing itself.

This is an interesting idea, very much in the vein of Charles Stross’ brilliant The Beginning of History.

I suppose a Panopticon of sorts is fairly inevitable. Hopefully the transition to a world where everything is recorded all the time will be well-handled, and won’t be used for authoritarian or nefarious purposes.

It’ll be a massive change, perhaps one of the biggest social changes ever.

[from Kevin Kelly’s blog][image from Unhindered by Talent on flickr]

Free ebooks appear to boost sales

Vernor Vinge made his book ‘Rainbow’s End’ free to read onlineTor author (and sometimes Futurismic blogger) Tobias Buckell has an interesting post talking about the effects of authors giving away their novels. There has been a lot of criticism of the practice by some writers and lots of praise from other corners. But with Neil Gaiman adding his superb bestseller ‘American Gods’ to the list of books you can legally download for free, are people shooting themselves in the foot or will this bring more income in the future through increased readership?

At the moment, it looks like the practice works. Two of John Scalzi’s books are up 20% and 33% in sales since the first one was released as a free ebook by Tor. As Charles Stross has mentioned, the fact that current ebooks are as much as a few hundred grams of chopped down tree, chemical treatment, ink printing, shiny cover embossing, a few thousand miles of transportation, part of the salaries of manufacturers, printers, truck drivers and shop assistants that make up the price of a typical physical book is simply insane. And that’s not even including the price of an ebook reader like the Kindle monstrosity. So until someone comes up with a £50 reader that gives you digital books for £3, £2 of which goes to the author, ebooks aren’t a business model. But they do provide clever authors with the chance to increase their reader base. What do you guys think? Would you purchase a book after you’ve been impressed by the free ebook version?

[image is the cover of Vernor Vinge’s novel ‘Rainbow’s End’, which you can find for free online here.]