Corey Doctorow's book, Information Doesn’t Want To Be Free: Laws for the Internet Age isn’t a book that would typically come up in small business discussion. However, it’s filled with ideas that can enlighten and expand your understanding of online business, digital sales, and our modern world as a whole.
Unconventional thinking has always been the engine of progress, coming in fits and starts and sometimes giant leaps. With the Internet age, we’re seeing those leaps with increasing frequency. This book takes a deep look at the way we use technology and the ways it affects us in return.
Doctorow brings a wealth of his own unconventional thought, prying open the doors to new avenues of growth, recognition, and success, for those who are willing to make their own leap. The first step might be the most important: recognizing that ideas of ownership and privacy may have become outdated by the Internet.
To clarify, the author drops right into the heart of the matter with proclamations you can’t miss, like this gem: “Doctorow’s Second Law: Fame Won’t Make You Rich, But You Can’t Get Paid Without It.” He elaborates, explaining that, “Obscurity is a far greater threat to authors and creative artists than piracy.” This nods to the fact that on the Internet today, you’re likely to see someone sharing your content without having paid; instead of fighting it tooth and nail, you’re better off riding the recognition that may result. You’ll grasp the picture when he gets to his clever bon mot, “Content isn’t king; conversation is.”
Advice like this helps small business owners navigate the seemingly mystical waters of the Internet age, becoming flexible and rolling with the waves rather than fighting against them. In this new world, old ideas are as detrimental as bad ideas.
Similarly, Doctorow addresses security and surveillance online, and the way they intertwine with often outdated copyright laws. He indicates how, with the wealth of information shared on a daily basis, direct policing of every interaction is implausible and kind of insane. But we don’t have to reject the idea of copyright entirely. Instead, the point is to work toward a new kind of way to declare ownership of an idea.
The jist of this new way of thinking is summed up, as Doctorow expresses that the purpose of copyright “shouldn’t be to ensure that whoever got lucky with last year’s business model gets to stay on top forever.” Instead, he says that we can tell a good system from a bad system by looking at the results of each. “A bad copyright system has fewer creators making fewer types of work, enjoyed by fewer people. A good copyright system is one that enables the largest diversity of creators making the largest diversity of works to please the largest diversity of audiences.”
This reaches at the fundamental truth about free markets. When we have thriving competition and an open exchange of ideas, the best results rise to the top. In that way, the Internet age isn’t so different, after all. It’s all about looking at business with fresh eyes.