“… I don’t know. There is a bit of weird content theft going on on the craft blogs… I am wondering if it’s bots or real people …” 
The Internet is turning a world of scarcity into a world of abundance. Anything added to the Web by creators, artists and makers has the potential to be copied, reproduced and sold. Why? How do you turn this around?
Scarcity to Abundance
The Internet is turning a world of scarcity into a world of abundance. Abundance is a consequence of the Internet squishing the distance from creators to viewers. You no longer have to trek into gallery to find art or know that special connected person who knows where the best craft is found in obscure markets.
Time, skill and ability
Ubiquity might have replaced scarcity but at the same time it has not greatly increased the numbers of artists, crafters and makers. Creators use their imagination, time and skill to build new things. I suspect people underestimate the level of dedication and energy required to do this. Ability is a prerequisite. To create beauty takes time and skill. Time especially.
Making objects just gets cheaper
There is another revolution going on aside from the Internet. It’s happening in China and other third world countries catching up with the Industrial revolution. Especially China. China’s ability to manufacture objects cheaply is resulting in opportunities for others to grab new ideas, transform them into a saleable product and hopefully profit.
Process not just product
You can’t just make an object from scratch first time. Creation is a process. You take an idea, modify it. Experiment a bit. Create a prototype. Make mistakes. Then formulate a plan to finish the product. Some creators do this entirely in their head. From idea to finished product is their single vision. There is a market for finished products. The traditional way is a gallery, a market or even a shop. Internet companies like Etsy have transplanted that idea into a supermarket. Acting as the middle-man introducing consumers directly to creators. Mostly this is the final product. But what about the process? The steps you take to build a product. Again the traditional solution is a book. For creators it describes the creation process from idea to final product. A book is something physical. It scales and is a great way for makers to capitalise their skills.
If making things is so time and skill intensive, it doesn’t take a genius to work out the motive behind people seeing one persons creation as an opportunity to mass produce copies for commercial markets. The Internet helps accelerate this. The self organising nature of the Web means groups of people who create, join together and show off their wares. This makes things easy for people, companies to take. This dispenses the need for the messy world of design and innovation. Skipping the creative means the middleman has one less step to negotiate. One less payment to make. Where does this leave the artist, crafter, creator? In the market place it really means one thing, they miss out on the financial reward.
Disrupting the creating/copy cycle
One way to disrupt the creation/copy cycle is to change the creative perspective. The old way of thinking means you create a final product and the product is the the item of value. This pattern has served us well for a long time. But it’s failing in a world where making copies of objects is getting cheaper. The final-product pattern is also failing where retailers and wholesalers see the Internet as a supermarket for creators who build one-off items and don’t see the need to support. Creators can fight back if they realise the process is just as saleable as the end product. The transformation of idea to product has a lot of valuable steps. Yet few creators explore beyond the traditional approach.
Moving beyond Information to knowledge
There is a new wave of innovation creative people can really shine. The Internet is maturing. You can, with the help of Internet search and find information on wide varieties of topics. But if you look carefully, when it comes to creating things, the information resides with individual people. This could be another to unlocking profit: creators using the expert skills and processes filling in the long tail of knowledge. The how is the subject of another post.
 Pip Lincolne, meetmeatmikes, “Does anyone know much about copybots?”
Does anyone know much about copybots?
— pip lincolne (@meetmeatmikes) March 29, 2010