There are two books on my desk today.
Book One: The Zero Marginal Cost Society
The first book is a book that is doing the rounds in our department at the moment, The Zero Marginal Cost Society by Jereny Riekin. I have not read all the book but being privy to conversations in the office regarding it gives me a license to summarize 300 pages from an award winning, Ted speaking, New York Times best selling author in a four sentence gist without feeling any guilt. The gist is as follows:
The cost of producing and distributing additional units of goods is driven down so much that profits are getting smaller forcing the economy to evolve. It will do this by not just selling the product but by concentrating on services around it, turning in to a part-capitalist and part Collaborative Commons economy. The content of the book is in no way undermined by the strict copyright warnings and the fact the Ebook is £20. There is also a chapter on MOOCs.
My gist may be way of the mark in terms of what the book is truly about, but I think I have summed up the office conversations around it quite well and to be fair I have read one chapter, Chapter 7: MOOCs and a Zero Marginal cost Education, but nothing stuck with me. If I remember rightly the chapter was a breakdown of how more people can have access to education via a MOOC at little extra cost to the institution. I also seem to remember the last chapter quickly fit in the phrase ‘A great deal of idealism’. The reviews of this book on the back contain the phrases ‘thought-provoking’, ‘peerless visionary’ and ‘most discussed book of the year’. It’s a serious book discussing about all the great things that will come from the ability to reproduce things at zero cost.
Book Two: Gamification by design
Book two is an O’Reilly book called Gamification by design, it does not have any reviews on the back but I was able to get some phrases from Amazon, ‘Disappointingly brief’, ‘contains a commercially sponsored chapter’ and ‘I was waiting for a good book on gamification – this isn’t it’. The book is not a breakdown of where the author thinks the economy is headed, it just contains practice examples of how to hook people in to your product using gamification methods. Its a cheeky book, written by an author with a writing style I presume Del Boy would have if he grew up hooked on a C64. There is a feeling throughout the book that Techno Del Boy already knows about the distributing of additional units of goods being dirt cheap and this is how to build your product accordingly.
So while Rifkin uses 356 pages to weigh up the pros and cons of such a change and decides that this could lead to great things. Techno Del Boy sums up making a profit on zero cost products in a way I’m not sure how to take:.
The house always wins . . . Either be the house or get played.