Let’s look very briefly at free beer versus free speech concept where it’s applied to online content.
A brief summary is the concept of free speech (where you have access to a “right”) versus free beer (where you have open access to a “product”).
Net users have to decide if they’re happy with “free” all the time where the accuracy, honesty and availability is variable.
Or, whether they’ll look for good resources and pay for the information.
So What’s Free Speech or Free Beer Really Mean?
In the real world, any relationship only works when it’s a mutually helpful one.
If you choose to only use the “free” from a person without some reciprocation – (be it free online, always using the neighbour’s lawn mower, borrowing a tool without filling up the gas tank or cleaning it after use, hesitating to do the driving to hockey or basketball, never doing your share with neighbourhood cleanup, or never sharing really good wine with friends but always buying the cheap stuff) – then the relationship will weaken.
You’re a taker and not a giver. And we all know people like this.
Why Would This Differ In The Online World
The difference between the two is the online world is so much wider, with so many more resources you can find to use without paying anything for it – you’re getting free beer.
You can skip from resource to resource, always taking and never giving back.
But if you land on a resource and take advantage of it, then you run the risk of burning out the resource. If enough people do this, the resource will simply pack up and move on.
We all know websites that have simply disappeared. They’re full of good advice one day and “site not found” the next.
But then again, that’s not your problem if you’re a taker.
You can simply move on to another free resource in the almost-limitless online world.
Takers continue to take without regard for the resource. The move on always looking for the free beer.
And the survival of those who create those resources are not their concern.
Hell of a way to live.