Can we rely on free?

I realised this morning that my feed aggregator had moved into my very short list of mission critical tools. I cannot work without my laptop; my mobile (I can easily do without the landline); Microsoft Office – email, Word, PowerPoint and Excel and regular top-ups of tea. To this list I have just added Netvibes which has been down for ‘improvement’ for the last two mornings.

The thing is, I (actually Edelman) pay for all of the items on that list except for the aggregator which like so many other things in the ‘cloud’ is free. And as an old colleague commented on Twitter ( which like Facebook is definitely not mission critical just addictive/vaguely useful) “that’s what happens when you rely on free services for work: there’s no one to blame!” Free services do not come with the same commitment and there is very little real customer service beyond a blog and F&Qs for most of them and let’s face it, they do go down a lot or suffer ‘improvement’ periods frequently.

It’s a timely reminder for all the talk about everything going into the ‘cloud’ and the fond idea that we will not have to pay for any of this, that I quite like the comfort of a service contract and phone number to call so I can shout at someone and hopefully get things fixed . . . I know I know, very old school and 1.0 but is anyone from Netvibes really going to ‘listen’ to this post and do anything useful now? Of course not. Contract and payment still means a commitment to service and reliability I just don’t believe in yet from most free web-based services (Google might be an exception).

So because I am too lazy to look up all those urls I will go into the day not knowing:

What the brilliant Colin Byrne has read and thought about on his train into town this morning
What’s happening at Microsoft courtesy of Steve Clayton
What Tory middle England thinks via Ellee Seymour
What’s really happening at Manchester City with Sven Goran Eriksson
What the Obama and Clinton campaigns are claiming and counterclaiming
the latest darkly funny comic creation of Hugh MacLeod
Mark Borkowski’s view of the entertainment industry and what the tabloids are dishing up
If Jonny has published another fiendishly clever paper on influence or analyst league table

And many, many more things . . .

[tags] Netvibes; Colin Byrne, Steve Clayton, Ellee Seymour, Hugh MacLeod, Mark Borkowski, Jonny Bentwood [/tags]

Categories Technology

2 thoughts on “Can we rely on free?

  1. not good Mr B….especially when this is much going on. I suggest a summit over coffee very soon for scientific discussion


  2. Hope your technical problems are sorted now. I picked up on this link when I was planning to have a blog free day, but it inspired me to write a post on food shortages which has attracted lots of comments. So many thanks for the link David. 🙂


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