Making some coin Vs Crazy idealism
September 13, 2006, 12:25 pm
Filed under: rant

“There is still a part of me that remembers when nobody on the Internet was “doing it for the money” – and everything was free. Crazy idealists twhere are you all now?” – Lucasdigital 13/09/2006

This post from LucasDigital on Flickr really has me thinking. On one hand I dislike the BBC using Flickr as a free source of photographs, but on the other hand, I love they way Google, Flickr and a whole slew of other companies offer their API’s for free to the rest of the internet.

I really am chuffed for Mark, and the fact that his pictures were chosen. The fact that the photographs are taken by an individual, and the API’s are released by large corporations makes no difference, nor does the fact that one is a photograph, and one is an API giving access to data of one sort or another. Is it the fact that one is a large corporation giving away it’s API to the little man, and the other is a little man’s (sorry Mark, just a turn of phrase :-) ) content being used by a large corporation for their own gain.

The photographer in me says “I’ve taken the time and effort to take these photos, why shouldn’t I get paid for them?”, but the web developer in me thinks what if Google, or Yahoo, or Flickr took that attitude?, but back to the point of making money … when you get to the nub of things, all these fantastic idealistic companies with their API’s do it for one thing. They let you and I have free access to their API’s and webservices so that they can make money.

Even if an API is just a crude tool to give the company some exposure, you can bet it was cheaper to develop the API or service than it would have been to employ some PR company to get the same exposure the API gives them, the tools that people build on top of these services also drive people to the site, and toward the product that they have to pay for, or adverts that the company earns revenue from.

So you see at the end of the day, the modern day idealists, in it for kicks and the buzz are just the same as everyone else, they want their dollar.

What the BBC is doing is exploiting the good will and the free manpower that sites such as Flickr offer, and then use this to drive people to their site, where they may buy the latest Postman Pat comic, Tweenies roadshow tickets, or Only Fools and Horses DVD. It’s not crowdsourcing, it’s exploiting the fact that everyone wants their “ooh! I’m on the BBC” 15 minutes of fame.


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