The right intellectual doorway to use to enter this new "School for Digital Skeptics," I think, is Chris Ruen's book, Freeloading: How our Insatiable Hunger For Free Content Starves Creativity. Ruen recalled to me his skeptical epiphany: "I was a hipster working in a Brooklyn coffee shop," he told me. "And I realized that the famous musicians in the place were making as little as I was." It didn't take Ruen long to figure out what made pro musicians as poor as he was: The "freemium" Web economics of giving away content and hoping to make it up with volume and live performances. It simply was not paying the bills.
Not only do all these writers make excellent summer reads, they create a critical intellectual foundation that gives investors the confidence that the flaws of the digital age they sense are very real. And they give market participants the certainty that when the digital economy finally recalibrates -- which it certainly must -- they will be that much more prepared to profit from the shift. Short traders, you have your beach reading.