I’m not writing about gadgets here, but about the information that makes the gadgets useful: Software. This video is nominally about web design consulting. But I’ve lived these situations back before the web, as well as with web clients.
One problem is that the buyer of information has no idea what it’s worth until he has it. And once he has it, why should he pay someone for it? Therefore, it isn’t valuable. This dovetails neatly into other copyright issues, but I’m not going there.
I have a few websites, most of which are loaded with free information that I painstakingly collected and developed. The sites are also built from scratch, mostly with a simple text editor. Some people see value in this; I receive donations. Some years as much as the low three figures.
People used to ask me if HTML was easy. I’d say, “Yes, you just need to remember how a few hundred easy commands interact.” Most developers don’t bother to make sure their site even meets official web standards (as published and tested for free by W3C.org). Even WordPress, the engine on which this site is built, shows errors in the validator. Google? Thousands of errors on every page.
I’ve had clients who understand what I do, and were happy to pay. Unfortunately, usually their superiors had to be cajoled. Eventually, these situations melt down and leave me out of work.
The “Just a small change” problem comes up often. After I’ve been reporting and demonstrating every step of the way, and finally a web site is finished, then do they bother to look and notice that it isn’t what they need. They make “little” requests comparable to having a builder simply move a bathroom from the first floor to the second as the keys to a house are handed over.
This video made me cringe.