Andrew Keen predicts the end of "free labor" online

Andrew Keen wrote an unintentionally funny essay about how the bad economy is going to make people stop contributing content online unless they get paid for it.

So how will today's brutal economic climate change the Web 2.0 "free" economy? It will result in the rise of online media businesses that reward their contributors with cash; it will mean the success of Knol over Wikipedia, Mahalo over Google, over the, iTunes over MySpace, Hulu over YouTube Inc. , over, TechCrunch over the blogosphere, CNN's professional journalism over CNN's iReporter citizen-journalism… The hungry and cold unemployed masses aren't going to continue giving away their intellectual labor on the Internet in the speculative hope that they might get some "back end" revenue. "Free" doesn't fill anyone's belly; it doesn't warm anyone up.

(As Jesse Walker at Reason says, "Because that's why most people contribute to YouTube and Wikipedia. It's the reason why people post comments here at Hit & Run. 'Back end' revenue! It's the American dream!")

Keen doesn't realize the power of egoboo. Richard Eney wrote in his 1959 Fancyclopedia II that science fiction fandom "may be defined as an infinitely complex system for the production of pure egoboo." The same can be said for the Web, too.

Economy to Give Open-Source a Good Thumping