FREE IS NOT ENOUGH
A funny thing happened on the way to the publication of Chris Anderson’s upcoming Free. The newspaper business went into free fall, other content industries may soon follow suit, and at least a small group of media consumers are beginning to wonder what type of content will be lost if everything is delivered free to the consumer but enabled (and defined?) by its advertising and marketing support. Representing the resurgent tollkeeper model is the Financial Times in this article by Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson entitled “Media’s want to break free.” It concludes:
Content owners are battling what Chris Anderson, author of The Long Tail, calls “a revolutionary price” in his next book, Free; and many things – from search to user-generated content – will remain free online. Professionally produced content, however, is likely to become much scarcer for those unwilling to pay for it.
“Who started this rumour that information had to be free and why didn’t we challenge this when it first came out?”, Time Inc’s Ann Moore asked this year.
According to Mr Grimshaw, the answer is that a “free evangelist movement [convinced] everybody that the internet was somehow different and any attempt to impose a business model was an imposition on people’s human rights”. Changing that perception will mean nothing less than challenging the culture of the internet as we currently understand it.
Before you get to these statements the piece has a worthwhile discussion of micropayments, ‘net tollkeepers, and the inadequacies of the internet advertising model.