I know I'm being "I-told-you-so-ish" again, (not to John, just in general) but
some years ago, when I wrote a review for Sunstone of LauraMaery Gold's first
"Mormons on the Internet" version I said that these freebie sites were not going
to survive without a proper business model, and that meant either user pay (for
content) or advertiser pay (for eyeballs). One of the two. I think one reason the
dot com bubble burst was because people didn't understand the very fundamental
nature of a business dealing: this for that (quid pro quo). You can't get
something for nothing. What the most successful models, imo, like the Britannica,
the Wall Street Journal and the Economist (and the Church News and FARMS, too,
while we're at it) have done is provide a free site, but most of the good stuff
is only available to subscribers. Eventually I predict most of these won't even
issue dead-tree versions any more (like Meridian, the private LDS e-zine). So I
think you're right. But it will take time for such a radical change to occur.
Same with music, incidentally. The Indies will offer free stuff because they're
after market share, but once they become established, like Kiss (who were one of
the co-plaintiffs in the case against ... shoot, the name's escaped me. Not
Gnutella, but the big one that preceeded them), they'll offer demos free, but the
"album" material and "concert" material you'll have to pay for.
Another model that a company I know of in Calgary is working on is called
nanocentage. That's the principle of paying for what you use, kind of like a
software licence. In theory, when you buy MS Office, say, you don't "own"
anything -- you've merely paid for the right to use it. But suppose you wanted to
use a real complex, high-end software package (a GIS system, say, or a medical
image analysis package) but couldn't afford the thousands of dollars for even a
single-seat licence? Well, you could pay for only what you actually use, say, a
nanocent a second of server CPU time, and/or a nanocent per MB of disk space that
you've borrowed while you do your thing. This Calgary company has a way to
measure and bill that and they're trying to sell their technology to big content
providers (actually, although I probably shouldn't say this, I think they'll end
up being bought out by someone like AOL Time Warner, who'll incorporate their
technology into their content provision.)
Nice to see that the two jurisdictions with oil money are doing something for
their citizens to keep them on the right side of the digital divide, though (in
Alberta we're providing broadband to everyone in the province through an
initiative called SuperNet).
"John W. Redelfs" wrote:
> I am very pleased with something that our small town public library is
> doing. A couple of years ago, the state legislature authorized the
> purchase of Ebsco access for all public library patrons in the
> state. Ebsco is a huge database of newspaper stories, popular and
> scholarly periodical articles, dissertations, and so forth. It is an
> expensive service that most individuals could not afford on their own. Yet
> the public library here in Ketchikan will give me the userid and password
> for the asking.
> A couple of days ago I learned that the state and local libraries have
> added to the access affording library patrons. I know have free access to
> Electric Library, Net Library, the online World Book, and a service called
> NoveList which is a huge database about fiction.
> All of these outfits cost big bucks to access. They are full text, behind
> closed doors websites. I think it is just marvelous what the libraries
> here in Alaska are doing for their patrons.
> For over a year, ever since the big dot com bubble burst I have heard that
> free content on the web is a thing of the past. There is just no business
> model for content providers to make enough to pay for their
> operations. People simply will not pay for content, the pundits say. I
> just don't believe it. People will pay for it even if they end up paying
> taxes so that the libraries can offer it. For the last two centuries
> libraries have been buying books so that their patrons could enjoy
> something that they could not afford themselves. Apparently this is just
> the way that libraries are adapting to a changing world. Now they are
> buying online content that patrons could not afford. Cool, huh?
> Is this happening in other places, or is it just Alaska? If any of you
> have online content provided by the local library, I would be interested in
> hearing about it. What is being made available to you?
> John W. Redelfs [EMAIL PROTECTED]
> Anytime I see something screech across a room and
> latch onto someones neck, and the guy screams and
> tries to get it off, I have to laugh, because what is that
> thing. --Jack Handy
> All my opinions are tentative pending further data. --JWR
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Marc A. Schindler
Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada -- Gateway to the Boreal Parkland
“The first duty of a university is to teach wisdom, not a trade; character, not
technicalities. We want a lot of engineers in the modern world, but we don’t want
a world of engineers.” – Sir Winston Churchill (1950)
Note: This communication represents the informal personal views of the author
solely; its contents do not necessarily reflect those of the author’s employer,
nor those of any organization with which the author may be associated.
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