Four Pillars: On snowballs and seeds and digital rights

We spent the weekend with my mother-in-law down in Chichester. She lives in a wonderful flint cottage, quintessentially English in every respect. Including its garden.

Of late she’s been thinking of moving home, mainly to switch from living on four levels to living on one. She’s a talented artist and sculptor, and is very meticulous in everything she does. Including her preparations for potentially moving home.

Which brings me to the reason for this post, the kernel. A seed.

Her house has been home to her for nearly three decades, and over that time she has made the garden her very own. Now, as she considers moving from there, she’s  been preparing.

Preparing by using diverse means to create transportable copies of her favourite plants. The fig tree that miraculously produces giant fruit in an English climate. The rose bush that has a scent all its own, to the point it probably deserves bottling.

What she’s been doing is using seeds where appropriate, cuttings where appropriate, even seedling plants as needed. And planting them in stand-alone pots with the right earth and conditions. Planting them with love and care and devotion, and enjoying watching them grow.

And I thought to myself, what a simple yet elegant example of extreme nonrival goods with low reproduction costs. This is how snowballs and kernels work. Sure there is an economic model there and money to be made. People sell seeds and seedlings and cuttings and plants. And things to feed them and nurture them and look after them. And even pay people to do different aspects of all this.

People make money because of plants rather than with plants. Exceptions exist, and you can pay enormous sums for the exceptions. But they are exceptions. I can try to specialise in bonsai or orchids, or pay others to help me.

“Because of rather than with”, as Doc has instilled in me. And “my choice”. Two phrases that the DRM hawks would do well to learn.

7 thoughts on “Four Pillars: On snowballs and seeds and digital rights”

  1. Hi JP, “because of rather than with” reading this reminded me:-) in 1992 I visited Smith College in Northampton, Mass. There I saw the last surviving specimen of the “dawn redwood” tree. This region had been under that cover, but all that had vanished, leaving just that single tree. I was awed. I collected a couple of cones of the dawn redwood. (On that trip to the US, I also visited Walden pond, in Concorde, Mass, where Thoreau had lived; and collected some souvenirs, like leaves etc). Over the years, when I want to give a very special gift to a very special friend – I give them a seed from the dawn redwood cone. To signify that the person is invaluable, a single survivor, of a special breed!
    Thanks for your eyeball! I just got an email from Deepak / Dadi, from our class in Xavier’s. He’s in Delhi. He is an avid reader of your blog he tells me! Best, chutki

  2. Like the Dawn Redwood story :-) but then I think every one of us is a single survivor of a special breed…

    Say hi to Dadi… (or if you’re reading this, Dadi, hello from JP)

  3. Hi JP . Yes Chutki is right, I find your blogs immensely absorbing and thought provoking.Thanks. BTW, the dadi is long gone :)

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