Free: Interview with Chris Anderson

Whether you’ve read it or not, you’re undoubtedly aware that Chris Anderson, editor in chief of Wired and author of The Long Tail, has written a new book: Free.

I haven’t read the book but can likely guess the premise—and given that the unabridged audiobook can be downloaded online I’ll no doubt be giving it a listen at some point in the near future (Anderson made Free available online at no cost in various formats for a limited time).

Until that time, this interview about Free between Chris Anderson and Hugh MacLeod (of Gaping Void) will satiate my desire.

I think there are two classes of people who are afraid or skeptical of Free: those who grew up before the web (ie, olds like me) and people whose industries are threatened by the web (ie, media people like me). Many in my generation or profession (mostly, I hope, those who haven’t read the book) assume that Free is something of a Ponzi scheme. Meanwhile, my kids are also appalled that I wrote a book called FREE, but not because it’s wrong/scary, but because it’s so freaking obvious.

Needless to say, they’re both wrong. Free is neither a mirage nor is it self-evident. Instead, it’s an essential, but complicated, component of a 21st century business model—not the only price, but often the best one.

Some other choice quotes from the interview (best read in context):

These are exciting days, and if ever these was a time to be overextended this is it.

Easier: experimenting. Harder: predicting.

Don’t wait to be given a job to do something cool. Follow your passions, create something every day, take chances and try to be the best in the world at something, no matter how tiny and trivial. Nothing impresses me more than initiative. And there has never been a better time to take it.

On a more prosaic note, I think that leading people is perhaps the most important skill these days.