Irony (Updated)

Wired editor Chris Anderson, in a book entitled Free, in passages defining “free lunch” and the “TANSTAAFL” acronym, decides to get his authorial words for free from Wikipedia and to include them in Free without attribution. Guess what? Turns out that when it comes to lifting other people’s writing, there’s no such thing as a free lunch! Not the first Web 2.0 pundit to fail to grok (or respect) the importance of attribution in a reputation economy.

HT: James G.

Update: Now Malcolm Gladwell lends his brand to Free in the pages of the New Yorker.  He’s mostly skeptical of the premise that free is the future — no comment on the Wikipedia scandal.  I’m skeptical of Anderson’s writing too, but not very impressed by Gladwell’s analysis, which feels five to ten years out of date.  Lots of recycled anecdotes to be found: e.g., the tired distinction between the online models of the New York Times and the WSJ.

Update 2: Janet Maslin from The New York Times takes a look at Free and is not too impressed:

Here is what he means by “Free”: If you want to know what he really thinks, you’re going to have to pay for more than his book. He acknowledges that he is giving his book away online, as well as selling it at the not-free price of $26.99, so he can be hired for much more lucrative speaking and consulting jobs.

So “free” can be another word for self-promotion designed to obtain other desirable forms of profit.  A.k.a. “it’s a reputation economy.”  HT:  Lisa Gold.