The Carr-Benkler Wager, Revisited

Yochai Benkler has launched a blog, and in his first post he addresses the Carr-Benkler Wager, the long-standing bet that he made with Nicholas Carr about whether the most influential sites on the Internet will be peer-produced or price-incentivized.

They disagree about the most basic terms of the wager (what are the right categories?  what are the right things?), so it’s no surprise that there is really no winner.

The debate — the substance, not the parties — reminded me of a scene in Cameron Crowe’s film Almost Famous.  Philip Seymour Hoffman, playing the music critic Lester Bangs, carries on:

“I’m telling you, you’re coming along at a very dangerous time for rock ’n’ roll. The war is over. They won. They will ruin rock ’n’ roll and strangle everything we love about it and then it just becomes an industry of cool. 99 percent of what passes for rock n roll, silence is more compelling.”

That flick was set in 1973.  Bangs = Carr?  Benkler = William Miller (the fictionalized Cameron Crowe, the film’s protagonist)?  Plus ça change ….