Does Information Want to Be Free?

Malcolm Gladwell has a worthwhile article in the latest New Yorker (, reviewing Chris Anderson’s Free: The Future of a Radical Price. Apparently Anderson, the editor of Wired, celebrates  Stewart Brand’s “information wants to be free” as a kind of economic force of gravity. Gladwell shows that is mostly nonsense. “The only iron law here is the one too obvious to write a book about, which is that the digital age has so transformed the ways in which things are made and sold that there are no iron laws.”

In other words, we don’t know where we are going in the knowledge business. My sense is that over the past six months people in publishing have finally taken in, sorrowfully, what we’ve all been talking about for years. The Titanic is going down and we can’t stop it. But forget any glib certainty about what comes next.


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