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Can there be a free Web if no one makes money?

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Paul Keith:
It's a misleading (and mistaken) question.

"No one" is too sensational.

Education is strongly tied to the value of information.

>>>Information wants to be free>>>That's why the model is shifting

>>>Information wants to be more expensive>>>Replace news reporting with "how to" report news

Blog books, freemium services, paid instructors increases in demand.

Expensive journalism, newspapers, product/item advertising decreases in demand.

(I don't really know how to state my point so I'm just putting what makes sense to me in this reply.)

+1 with Paul. In some respects, the question is misleading.

None of the web is actually free.

Somebody, somewhere, is somehow paying for every bit of it.

Possibly what's happening is that the people who have been paying for it all along are now saying they want (or demand ) other parties start paying for some of it too?

In some respects it's another example of the maturation cycle for technical change. In the early stages of introduction, adoption can be accelerated either by subsidizing or offering the technology to the public for free. It used to be understood that once general adoption was achieved, the subsidies would be dropped, and it would the go back to business as usual.

Unfortunately, one of the side effects of having the web so heavily subsidized is that the vast majority of its users have come to believe it doesn't cost anybody anything. And from this comes the feeling that "all things web-related" should continue to be provided without restriction, and at zero cost to the consumer.

I'm not sure who these people think is paying for all that infrastructure (copper, fiber, routers, web farms, electrical power, etc.) or web content - but there you have it.

So I guess it's not so much a question of can it remain free.

I think the more real question is who will it continue to remain free for.  

I'm not sure who these people think is paying for all that infrastructure (copper, fiber, routers, web farms, electrical power, etc.) or web content - but there you have it.-40hz (December 06, 2009, 02:26 PM)
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In general I agree with you, but the subscription fee you pay to your ISP should take care of the infrastructure. If that is not the case, is that my fault? In my point of view it is not and because of that I don't see any reason why I should pay for the mistake between the ISP and whichever party is doing the infrastructure (maintaining/building).

Now I am not daft enough to think that I (as a costumer) will pay for such mishaps, but still.

Creating and hosting content costs money and should be non-subsidized. The only way I could see that happening is in the form of a plan similar to what cable-TV does. Besides the connection fee for your ISP, pay them an extra monthly sum for all access to sites in that plan. Content providers can be paid with that extra money.

Most people have a set of sites that they continuously visit and disregard most of the web anyway. Of course ads shown on the sites that are included in such a plan will become more valuable for both the content provider and the advertising agencies, so the money that people should pay for such a plan should not be that high.

All the Murdoch's of the web would agree with this a short/mid-term solution anyway. Since I have worked several years for a content provider and nowadays just happily surf, I'm not sure if this balkanisation of the web will do us all much good in the long term though.

I agree wholeheartedily with Shades - the cost of infrastructure should be covered. The cost of content hosting is actually still much, much cheaper than it ever was in traditional media. Try reaching the equivalent of 10 million people a month with a $2000/mo equipment bill. Yes, you can get a server farm that will serve 10 million unique visitors a month with about that kind of monthly investment. It's a lot, sure, but it's pennies compared to what cable and TV equipment costs and maintenance fees are. So I don't think that's where the problem is. And anyway, there's advertising to pay for a lot of that stuff anyway.

The problem with a subscription model for "The Internet" is that it's soooo much more vast than cable TV or anything else htat has a subscription model, it would be impossible to really simplify billing to that kind of level. The only thing you could do is maybe take up a model like those old "porn networks", Adult Pass Network or whatever, and have large groups of content providers under a single banner. You'd still need to buy multiple subscriptions in some cases, but at least it would be only a few instead of 100's or 1000's. The other alternative is a broadly available micropayments system, say Paypal or Google come up with it, and then sites start implementing it just as they have with both of those company's existing payment services, out of a desire to be recuperated for their time.

Anyway I'm getting away from my real point though: perhaps the question is wrong ("Can the web remain free"), but if that's so, was the question for radio or TV or many other long-term free services also wrong? "Can TV remain free?" Well, it didn't I suppose, we have cable now, for quite a while. And yet over the air broadcast still survived. We have XM radio now, yet radio remains (struggling, conglomerating), and HD Radio - a new free radio technology - is also trying to establish itself. My point is the model that everyone says is broken online is not unique to the Internet and has been apparently working for decades in other media platforms. There are certainly possible reasons why it may not work online, btu I don't think anyone has very well addressed or discsused those here yet.

Does anyone find it interesting that the only people who seem to be complaining about this are people who already have huge companies with lots of money?

- Oshyan

Does anyone find it interesting that the only people who seem to be complaining about this are people who already have huge companies with lots of money? - Oshyan-JavaJones (December 06, 2009, 03:31 PM)
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Aye, and there's the rub as Hamlet would say. Those same uber-rich people are have spent quite a bit buying politicians to help them write entire sections of the copyright law that only extends in one direction -- longer and longer -- so that infringement never ends.


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