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Value in a World of Replication


I came across a very interesting blog entry from Kevin Kelly (the former Executive Editor of Wired magazine and current publisher/editor of Technium), entitled “Better than Free.”

His point is that as content/media becomes commoditized, the cost heads down to and approaches zero (“free”). So why is any data or information or output worth anything? As he puts it, “When copies are free, you need to sell things which cannot be copied.” Kelly names the properties of things that cannot be copied generatives.


Kelly’s 8 Generatives

· Immediacy
· Personalization
· Interpretation
· Authenticity
· Accessibility
· Embodiment
· Patronage
· Findability




These ideas are extremely applicable to the Composite Application realm, in that mashups and composite apps generally benefit from the commoditized content that is available now or emerging from the Internet, and particularly Web 2.0.

By allowing disparate data sets to be accessed and displayed in a contextual user interface like a map or a timeline, Interpretation of that data can lead to insight and knowledge. By quickly making it possible for individuals or groups to incorporate data feeds (either in an ad hoc fashion or easy administrative access/control), the composite application brings Immediacy and Personalization to the user experience.

Composite Applications, being kind of like the grown-up big brother of mashups, benefit additionally from being able to incorporate data feeds or sources that come from contractually “leased,” trusted content providers that guarantee Authenticity and in many cases provide Accessibility that many free content sources lack (the kind of sources that tend to be leveraged by mashups).

Perhaps the most valuable of the “generatives” that Kelly details is the last one on his list: Findability. IDV has been excited to see Search for the Enterprise advancing to include the time and geospatial elements of content, allowing for our products and solutions to provide a contextual view of that data in a new and useful way (see previous blog entry on Enterprise Search).

Kelly sums up the impact of this “commoditized” information world by stating,

“These eight qualities require a new skill set. Success in the free-copy world is not derived from the skills of distribution since the Great Copy Machine in the Sky takes care of that. Nor are legal skills surrounding Intellectual Property and Copyright very useful anymore. Nor are the skills of hoarding and scarcity. Rather, these new eight generatives demand an understanding of how abundance breeds a sharing mindset, how generosity is a business model, how vital it has become to cultivate and nurture qualities that can’t be replicated with a click of the mouse.”

In many ways, if Kevin Kelly’s “generatives” nomenclature catches on, then composite application products like IDV’s Visual Fusion are the “generative toolkits” that will allow people to learn and use their new skill sets.



Christopher Abraham / IDV Solutions


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