Generatives > Free

Kevin Kelly’s recent manifesto highlighted in Change This has my brain spinning. In the manifesto Kevin reasons that in an economy where duplication and “free” are abundant, the real value in any commodity comes from intangible (and copy-able) generative values; a value, much like trust, that must be cultivated, nurtured or grown.

Here’s his short list of intangibles that people are often willing to pay for in an economy of abundance:

Eight Generatives that are Better than Free:

  1. Immediacy
  2. Personalization
  3. Interpretation
  4. Authenticity
  5. Accessibility
  6. Embodiment
  7. Patronage
  8. Findability

In reviewing this list (download and read the 11 page manifesto. Trust me, it’s a quick and easy read) I can’t help but apply these intangible values to libraries and library services. In many ways these really are our bread-n-butter. And it’s the attention to these “generatives” is what sets exceptional institutions apart.

So here’s the thought my head keeps coming back to...

… If these are the intangibles that customers are willing to pay for even when services are free, then it’s imperative (especially in these scare budget times) that libraries focus on cultivating these generatives. For if our customers aren’t able to easily associate an intangible value for our services, whose to say that they’d even be willing to accept the tangible value of free?

1 comment:

Kathryn Greenhill said...

Hi Helene,

Libraries should absolutely be thinking about this.

I blogged about Kelly's list in March after he posted his list of generatives on his blog last January. I tried to put each of his generatives to a library context, What kind of better than free is your library service?

The week before that post, I was looking at Chris Anderson's "Free" and his trying to apply the different kinds of "free" in his "Taxonomy of Free" (Freemium, Advertising, Cross Subsidies, Zero Marginal Cost, Labor Exchange, Gift Economy) to library examples. What kind of free is your library service?

My conclusion was that libraries should be focusing on the value of their reputation, and to be considering *attention* as a scarcity that we hope to attract as a way to then attract funding dollars.