Non-Market Activities

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Philippe Aigrain:

"Non-market means here "with no financial transactions or profit associated with the activities themselves, and no associated transaction costs (authorization, control, surveillance)". For an explanation of the cultural value of non-market activities in the information domain, and more generally of indirect coupling with information activities and the economy, see Yochai Benkler's Wealth of Networks. "Non-market" is more precise than "with a zero (free of charge) marginal cost" : accessing works within a catalog on the basis of a paid-for subscription is not "non-market" even though the marginal cost of accessing one work may be zero. However, providing means to non-market activities can be a market activity, for instance for added-value intermediaries. The case of content hosting sites funded by advertising probably deserves a specific treatment: their users activities are non-market, but when they sell these users' attention time to advertisers, the sites become, for this part of their activity, commercial distributors.

Non-market does not mean "administrated by a bureaucracy". On the contrary, non-market information activities represent a new step towards fulfilling the promises of the market economy in terms of an efficient allocation of resources. Markets, despites their irreplaceable value in many domains, struggle to fulfill these promises, because of the constraints of their concrete organisation: inequality of information and power, control on distribution channels, interdependcy of products and technology. The lowering of transaction and coordination costs in non-market activities make them a new production model, beyond state/administrations and markets/firms and contracts. Non-market activities are not "outside the economy": providing means to information exchanges represents a twice bigger share of developed countries GDP in comparison to sales of information (including information sales within services, advertising based intermediation and selling information carriers)" (