Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy: Lawrence Lessig: Bloomsbury Academic

Chapter Summary, 6-7


Brief Chapter Summary;
Lessig Starts off a new discussion with the idea of economies affecting creativity, and the impact that capitalism has on artists, both for music and visual arts. he discusses the successes and failures of each economy, and how they could improve, giving a key critical analysis of the economies. Chapter 7, however, discusses the titular ‘Hybrid economy’. Lessig analyzes less art and copyright in these chapters, and gives a highly focused view on the commerce section of the title. Barely mentioning ideas such as RW and RO culture, it’s almost an entirely separate book, dissecting economic principles like transaction costs, and translating them into a digital format. Chapter 6 Is much larger than chapter 7, though it does have a lot more to discuss.


Chapter 6:
Lessig brings forth the idea of the two economy types, being “Commercial” and “Shared” economies, and how a majority of the world functions in a commercial economy, with trade being given in currency, such as Dollars or Euros, so items are bought with a singular currency. Lessig discusses the “e-commerce” sector, something non existent in 1994, which grew rapidly, in 2005, where it was valued at 2.4 Trillion. He discusses the succus of E-commerce, giving the example of Netflix, Though it should be noted that this book discusses 2008 Netflix, and not the economic streaming powerhouse that it is today, Lessig mentions VCR, and how it’s “off-air” viewings of shows and movies from Disney and Warner were, in a sense, a tool to enable piracy and crime, though the US Supreme court disagreed with the verdict, and so VCR was used freely as a non-infringing utility. He then goes into the example of Amazon, again 2008 Amazon, before it was the overwhelming capitalist goal that it is today. With it primarily selling books. The last example he gives is Google, which, Once again, is far larger today, who Lessig believes grew so rapidly due to their creativity and search algorithm technology. Lessig analyzes in-depth what makes each company run so well, and the common factor between them all, is the internet. Using an online browser to access a store, instead of having to drive there, having a search function, instead of having to look yourself, and having all of it accessed almost instantly. He uses three Key terms to describe the success of these companies, Long Tail, Little Brother, and Lego-ized innovation, these ideas revolve around data collection, innovation, and cost reduction.

Lessig segments the chapter by talking about Shared economies. Giving an example of his experience of shared culture, him borrowing a DVD from someone sitting next to to him on the bus. He is given the CD without cost, as long as he returns it. Lessig also references his earlier chapters, with how functionally, this is illegal, as he is watching a movie without purchasing the rights to watch, and the passenger hasn’t purchased the rights to provide it to others. He gives the simplified explanation of shared economies using personal, vague examples for the reader, such as friendships and relationships, and how you provide favors or aid for no physical cost, as paying to chat with a friend would detract from the relationship and how you need to ‘balance’ what is exchanged between you. He summarizes the shared economy as something that is needed, as sometimes adding money to an exchange is destructive. Often people give gifts, with the expectation of getting something, not necessarily physical back from it, which is an example of shared economies. Charities and aid organizations are examples of shared economies too, as people volunteer aid, without being paid,  due to the spirit and idea of what they are volunteering for, he gives the example of Alcoholics Anonymous, who are funded by no one, and the idea of having it being paid for with a fee, would reduce the gratitude and aid that would be given, as it would feel artificial, and not a genuine act of community. The motivation of exchanges will change whether it is commercial, or shared, or even a mix of both.



Chapter 7:
Describing the idea of ‘Hybrid Economies’ , Describing it as something that adds to the monetary value based economy of commercial economies, and the favor based value of shared economies. Lessig believes that hybrid economies will dominate the commerce of the Web, and could change the ways that shared economies function outside of the web. A Hybrid economy is either a commercial entity that aims to leverage value from a shared economy, or is a shared economy that builds a commercial entity to support its shared aims, it links two simple economies to produce something advanced. However, Lessig highlights the importance of keeping the two economies separated in the hybrid, as it may result in them changing their view on their work, for example, thinking that commercial sections are more shared, and then focus less on economic rewards. The idea that shared economies can provide value, which is exploited by commercial economies within the hybrid, is discussed by Lessig, as he views shared economies being incapable of having substantial value, without being bought out, giving the example of websites, often utilizing a shared economy, being bought by larger commercial companies.

Lessig provides the ‘paradigm case’ as he puts it; Free Software. bringing the example of free software being brought about in 1990s, being created by engineers for engineers, and how in a capitalist, commercial economy, it was unfeasible that the software could continue as a long term industry, yet, free software grew, over 2 years and it got more support. When interviewing Thomas  Sterling, a Space Flight Physicist, he discusses the idea that free software heavily relies on altruism, and could be a part of the “altruism economy”, something that shares many features with shared economies. Sterling also discusses that economies are based on communities, or rather shared interests. Lessig goes on to discuss Linux as both a part of a hybrid economy and free software.

Lessig then goes on to discuss the future of Hybrid economies, and current features that could advance further, starting with the example of Dogster and Craiglist. For Dogster, it’s a free website and forum for dog owners, that hires very few people and funds itself via advertisement, and by doing this is able to attract more members, and given that its content is provided by users, who also provide the income by viewing advertisements, functions as a perfect example of a hybrid economy. Craiglist functions similarly, but provides services and products provide by users, for users, also utilizing advertisements for funding, creating a self fueled expanding site. He continues discussing in depth analysis of other hybrids, such as Youtube, Wikipedia, and World of Warcraft, as well as others, finishing the chapter by summarizing the success of hybrid economies in a digital space.


Notable Quotes:

“An ‘economy’ is a practice of exchange that sustains itself, or is sustained, through time”

“A critical part of the internet is just such a commercial economy.”

“An efficient Little Brother (Relative of Orwell’s Big Brother) learns what I’m likely to want and then recommends new things to me”

“Housingmaps was one of the Web’s First mashups”

“Integration is often transparent. but it enables the sharing of powerful functionality across many different sites”

“Smart for one time does not translate into smart for the next time. For that, we need new businesses.”

“I’ve killed forests explaining all that”

“I fight for ‘free culture’. my position is weakened by kids who think all culture should be free.”

“Prices are the primary source of information about, and incentive for, resource allocation”

“Money oriented motivations are different from socially orientated motivations”

“A billion people in advanced economies may have between two billion and six billion spare hours among them, every day”






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