Paul Carr has just released his recent book, "Bringing Nothing to the Party", for free, online. Wanna download the book? Is this great PR? Of course, people who wouldn't buy or haven't heard of Paul's book can now access his ideas. Is this link-bait? Of course, Paul's getting thousands of links to PaulCarr.com or the TC article. Don't think that Paul's decision is anything but a PR move, but that doesn't change the outcome. Think of Leo Babatua, of ZenHabits.net. Leo has released all rights and claims for copyright to all his work. His calculation is that people that want to buy his work will pay for it and people who want to steal his content weren't going to pay for it anyway.
I was pretty intrigued by the shutdown of tr.im, a url shortener. URL shorteners are useful to share links on Twitter because they reduce the number of characters needed. They also present a ripe opportunity for spamming, phishing, and link-rot. After reading the comments on the tr.im website regarding the shutdown, it seems that this was a great service with passionate users. I thought it was interesting that quite a few people complained about the service not providing a data export feature for your existing links. On one hand, I completely understand the frustration of having a service shut down without a way to retrieve your data. But, after all, you weren't paying for the service. I've mentioned having backups for your Google services before, but what about all your other free services? What happens if Gmail, Google Reader, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and a few other key sites shut down? Would you know how to access or back up your data? The bad news is that you don't really have any recourse if a free service shuts down, since it's not like you have an SLA with Facebook. I think the only real solution here is open standards. It took a while for email to standardize, so this is all part of the growing pains of the new media, but there's no other way to ensure continued access to your data on the off chance a company goes bankrupt. You can't require a free service to provide data transfer capabilities if you're not paying them. You can't expect every shutdown to be orderly and well managed, or to include a nice note on the site explaining why you can no longer create links. You have to assume massive failure, complete bankruptcy, etc and plan accordingly, especially as more and more important parts of our lives move to the 'cloud'.