Scarcity and abundance

As you may remember, this newsletter is using the generous free plan from Mailchimp. But it has limits. Only 2000 emails ca subscribe to that newsletter. It’s already a great gift, and I’m pretty sure it’s a good business calculation for them. Now GreenRuby reaches 1915 subscriptions. Which means we need to address that so pervasive concept of scarcity.

I can remember when it shifted. With the first web pages in 96. When tables were introduced in HTML, then it became less obvious how to recreate something you saw, and having the possibility to browse the source of a page gives you the exact recipe on how it’s made. So you can copy from it. I think open source would not have had such a large adoption if there was not that idea with the HTML, that you need to have access to the source to learn, reproduce and improve.

Also, it made even more obvious one of the key aspects of the internet age: by dematerializing market goods (ie. with introduction of softwares), they became reproducible at a cost that is marginal enough to be forgotten (yeah, bandwidth and storage are not free, for sure). When you give it to someone, you still have it. Not like that glass of beer. It placed us in an awkward paradigm, the world of abundance.

There have been so many efforts to artificially bend the internet to a world of scarcity again. See, without scarcity, there is no economy as we know it. There is another kind of economy, though, but the big guys that lead the old one are not ready to let it go. For the old economy to work, things have to be scarce. Otherwise there is no competition to obtain commodities, no motivation to work like crazy to push forward the progress of production. In abundance economy, also known as gift economy, people get less likely to be controlled and they don’t want to work hard, they want pleasure and satisfaction.

Honestly, I see the efforts made to control a resource that is naturally abundant, by using the tools of law, copyright laws, patents, and all that kind. I can’t help thinking about the abundance of material goods. Technological progress, after war, promised some kind of abundant society. Work would be automated so we would have less and less to work and just enjoy the benefit of the global growth of humanity in taming the material world. Well, we are far from it, and I’m instinctively convinced that it’s by design. And it makes me sad. People still need jobs, society won’t provide for them. There is nothing like common goods in that humanity. And now human compete with machine for jobs, whereas they should have been allies. Sad, really.

But this led me quite far away from my initial topic: we got limited seats for this newsletter, so we’ll do it 2 ways. First, I will send a mail to all people that never click on any links, ask them if they want to stay there. Then after a time I will unsubscribe the ones that stay silent and inactive. That could skim some 300 people maybe. At the rate it goes, that can buy us some 6 months, at the current rate of newcomers each week.

Then, the subscription will be closed, unless I setup another publication system, self-hosted. We don’t really need a fully-blown solution like mailchimp to be totally honest. They do bit efforts to have mail servers that are compliant with various anti-spam techniques, and this is a great thing. But I bet I should be able to match it on a self-hosted server that would cost me less than $10 a month. It would have no limit, at least. Maybe at that time I will open some kind of donation program. Actually I already pay for the hosting but I use my servers for other usages so it’s only a small fraction. And honestly I could even host GreenRuby web pages on github pages for free. But I would not have access to the logs for analytics and would need to setup some piwik because I can’t cope with the idea of using GA. Or, I just don’t care about traffic metrics. That’s tempting. But I got lost in my train of thoughts here.

Bottom line is: we won’t get trapped by scarcity. Muahahaha. But feel free to send me feedbacks on this topic if you have any thoughts.

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