Misjudging Free


Yesterday, following Read It Later’s pivot into a less discriminatory “for later” service, Pocket, the Internet was abuzz with discussions of presumed ill-intent and accusations of poor business practices. Federico Viticci and Ben Brooks had a (presumably) amiable back and forth between their respective weblogs, and Twitter was filled with commentary.

For my part, I wrote an article back in February that aptly articulates my feelings on the matter. Entitled, “Fearing Change,” I wrote:

Embracing change allows for a dialectic discussion between innovation and the status quo. Without this conversation, things cannot and simply will not improve for anyone. In that light, wedging one’s head into the sand and swearing off anything different is absolutely pointless.

The world is a much better place once you snap out of an apprehensive and confused state - once you open the curtains and view the world for what it really is. Hiding under the covers and refusing to acknowledge anything beyond your desired state of affairs is cowardly, not constructive, and contributes absolutely nothing to the betterment of the situation.

Change isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but fear of it certainly is.

The presumption — without justification — that a company will hurt you and your interests betrays an infrastructure of fearful thinking. Moreover, it is not in keeping with the nature of the age in which we live.

Business is currently a hot bed for rampant and dazzling innovation. Holding oneself back from embracing such change, particularly when relying upon pessimistic and cynical presumptions, merely serves to stunt the aforementioned “dialectic.” Furthermore, given the ever-changing nature of the Internet, swearing off perceived imperfections in business practices inevitably paves a path toward disconnected isolation and paranoia.

We no longer live in a world in which commerce is characterized by the simplistic exchange of currency for a product or service. Instead, the Internet has given rise to utterly new forms of revenue generation. Although, arguably, many of these methods are inherently flawed, I have faith that such problems are merely indicative of the Internet’s continued growing pains.

Moreover, many of the Internet’s most prominent innovators have an insatiable desire to develop fantastic new services. In doing so, there is a perpetuated adrenaline rush leading toward the inevitable release of said service. During this time, I imagine pondering the nuances of business models and monetization are rather low on the list. Instead, people simply want to bring something inherently good and new to their audience. Perhaps that causes problems down the line but, rather than feeling resentful toward such innovation, I feel endlessly grateful. Without the blind maneuvering of innovators, we’d be left with few of the Internet’s most prominent services.

Thus, I choose not to view the innovation and imperfections of various services in a fatalistic light. Rather, I choose to embrace the discussion, enjoy what is new, and to foster an accordingly greater understanding and ever-increasing quality of life.

With specific regard to Pocket, I’m admittedly impressed. Although I have unsuccessfully courted and experimented with Instapaper-competitors for years, I tend to think Pocket has latched onto an intelligent and important point of attraction. Rather than focusing upon text, Pocket foregoes any specific allegiance to a particular medium. Instead, Pocket is a colorful, enjoyable, and useful window onto the Internet in its entirety. In many respects, Pocket fills the gap between “for later” services and Pinterest. Perhaps that is uninteresting to some but, for me, I find it thoroughly compelling.