There is no shortage of the world. And, with the internet, we are able to discover more of it, faster. And, moreover, we are able to tell people about what we've found.
Lots of people. Fast.
These two things might seem somewhat unrelated at first. There are many things in the world, and people can tell each other about them. What's the connection?
As with so many things, there is always a connection. In this case, you only have to think about what it means to live in a big world. With emphasis on the word "big".
So big, that it is very possible to go through life not knowing about things in it. In fact, it is more than likely that most of us will die without knowing about most of the things in it - much less spending time with these things.
People are, therefore, rather picky when it comes to these things. Not by choice, mind you, but by underlying design - they simply die before having the chance to get the full experience.
Which, of course, is why marketing exists. Marketing is a way of telling people about something they might not be or even become aware of. Because it is a very real possibility that they haven't got the faintest idea about the particular thing being marketed. Which is brutally bad for business.
Connection established. Big time.
With this in mind, we might want to rethink how we understand certain new developments, such as file sharing. There is no lack of people who are up in arms about how artists, writers and other creative/creating persons are not getting paid when people are listening, watching or beholding their work for free. Which makes intuitive sense - the traditional model has always been that paying customers make things happen, after all.
The thing is, though, that with this internet thingy around, it is suddenly a whole lot easier to get a hold of things. Even if we eliminate piracy completely from the equation, there is still enough free stuff around to last for at least a lifetime. Blogs are aplenty, YouTube exists, and if you ever get tired of that you can always play with this thing called "social media". And the world outside is still as large as it ever was.
Suddenly, the question is not whether or not people will pay. Rather, it is whether or not they can be bothered to care.
As a general rule, people who can't be bothered to pay attention are not very likely to pay anything else either. Time is, rather literally, money.
The upside is that it is also a whole lot easier to get a hold of people, too. And that they are more than keen to get a hold of each other, and - even better - tell stories about that awesome new thing they just happened to find. Which, given the size of the world, probably isn't that awesome new thing you just created.
But it could be. If they knew it existed.
Give people a reason to care. Give them time to care. Give them your work for free, and then provide them with ways to give back to you. Through Flattr, Paywithatweet or - best of all - an offer they can't refuse. An offer to buy more of what they've just seen and loved.
Ars longa, vita brevis. Art is long, life is short. Use it or lose it.