[T]his is not a dream list of things which I hope through some magic to become free, but a list of things which I believe are solvable in reality, things that will be free. Anyone whose business model for the next 100 years depends on these things remaining proprietary better watch out: free culture is coming to get you.
For each of the ten, I will try to give some basic (and hopefully not too ambiguous) definitions for what it will mean for each of them to be “solved”, and we can all check back for the next 25 or 50 years to see how we are doing.
In a subsequent post Wales is even more explicit:
[T]he point of naming the list “will be free” rather than “should be free” or “must be free” is that I am making concrete predictions rather than listing a pie in the sky list of things I wish to see.
I’d love to see similar (but shorter term and more thoroughly specified) predictions as claims on a prediction market. With the right set of claims we can more easily talk about, and plan for, which things are more likely to be free, and when.
Thus far Wales has predicted encyclopedias and curricula will be free. I can’t think of any segments that I am fairly certain will be free, are associated with large businesses, and have not already been alluded to in the comments on his first post.
However, regarding widely deployed software (e.g., operating systems, productivity applications) I have a theory explaining why it will be free: Microsoft Windows and Office have a half life–eventually a release of each will be a failure, at which point the only viable alternaives will be free, and any non-free alternaitves will face slow death–think commercial Unixes in the face of Linux. I’m not going to stand by this theory–it probably assumes too little change, of any sort.