The notion of FREE and what it means for media and society

Starting from what seemed to be a simple school task (to try ot explain contemporary media with the example of Freeconomics and the theory of FREE as the new price model), my research went into a more sophisticated direction.

Free, as in the WIRED magazine article, means that a company is giving away something at no cost, using a monetization model for another product or another way of distribution, so that the first product or service remains free.

At a first glance, it looks like the perfect pricing model, and the perfect model for consumers as well. But when given a second thought, a lot of disturbing issues start to emerge.

First of all, FREE is basically the model of most (if not all) media. That’s even embedded in the name – ‘medium’. In this business, the newspaper of whatever medium we choose to analyse sells the audience to the advertisers.

If applied to other markets, FREE means that the products are not satisfying the people’s needs – it’s the contrary: the people are satisfying the businesses’ need for consumers. The whole concept of supply and demand is different – it’s not that businesses are delivering what people need, but rather they tell people what they want, they decide what exactly the product should be, and then they deliver it to the people.

It means that, especially in the globalised market today, the companies decide what is being sold – be it products, services or even ideas.

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