It’s led to much debate about the wisdom of charging for online content, particularly content that’s generally available elsewhere in one form or another.
How will it end? As the Beehive City blog notes, “nobody really has a clue.”
There is always of course a chance that Murdoch and his accountants do know what they’re doing, and that they’ll attract the low-ish numbers they need to make it financially viable. Mind you, not all their writers share the bean-counters’ enthusiasm for the move.
As I rarely read The Time in print and even less frequently visit their website, the move won’t effect me (unless other publishers follow their lead, which looks … unlikely, to say the least). And I don’t seem to be alone in expecting free online news, but being perfectly willing to buy a newspaper once a week.
Nonetheless, it did get me thinking about paying for online services (no sniggering at the back please).
There’s so much available online for free, and because of this a huge sense of entitlement that services and content should be free online – starting with email, video, music, social networking tools, the list goes on and on.
Within all of this, which of your favourite websites would you pay to access? Your favourite newspaper’s, Twitter, Facebook or even the multi-tasking, hydra-headed beast that is Google?
The trouble is, half the time these sites work because they’re free – Twitter’s exponential growth, and therefore its utility, would not have been possible under a paid-for model. And the other half of the time a free alternative is (ahem) freely available.
When community-building website Ning.com announced plans to charge earlier this year it wasn’t long before lists of free alternatives began circulating on Twitter.
For me, maybe I’ll upgrade my free WordPress.com account to a paid for WordPress.org one in the future – particularly if I ever have enough time to start playing around with its CSS code. I also find virtual bookshelf sites like Goodreads and Shelfari particularly useful. But ultimately I can’t say for certain I’d ever pay for them.