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A Tech-Econ Mashup with a Libertarian Flavor

Andrew Keen is wrong, wrong, wrong!

Culture-snob Andrew Keen is at it again. Earlier this week, he predicted that the trend towards more and more “free” stuff on the internet – software, social applications, media – is coming to an end with the approaching recession. As you may have guessed from the post title, I think he’s wrong.

His first and most obvious error: Keen assumes that people consider blogging, open-source coding, developing social networking websites as “labor” in the conventional sense. Might not people do these things because they consider them leisure activities? (Disclosure: I used to be a programmer – it’s kinda fun).

Keen’s analysis also falls short by ignoring the underlying economics of the situation. In a competitive labor market where many workers are competing for few jobs, firms look to hire the best people they can get for the wage they’re willing to pay. In the software industry, developing or contributing to open-source software is commonly how young programmers gain experience and build portfolios, and is a good way to advertise their skills and entice prospective employers. If more programmers must compete for fewer jobs, one would expect to see more, not less, open-source software in the future, as young coders scramble to augment their skill sets. Similarly, aspiring web designers, internet moguls, and youTube auteurs ought to be creating more web pages, social apps, and internet films. And up-and-coming journalists and writers would – you guessed it – write and blog more. It’s called “human capital,” Andy.

My human capital-accumulation plan: graduate school!

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Filed under: Economics, Internet, , , , ,

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Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect.
-Mark Twain

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