It has long been my opinion that - eventually - we will have to pay for information on websites. No, I don't
mean promotional stuff like product descriptions and such - I mean information that helps us solve a
Pre-Internet - and it's not that long ago - to find out who sang what song and when, we bought
the 'Guinness Book of Hit Singles'. The names of characters in the Simpsons? A book called 'A complete guide to our favourite family'.
How to fix my old MR2 sports car? The Haynes manual for that car. What happened in the year/month/week/day I was
born - yep, 'the year I was born : 1956'. All of these books are sitting on the shelf next to my desk -
but they were all purchased over 10 years ago. These days, everything I need to know on these subjects can
be found within a few seconds on the web. For free.
This subject was brought back to me on two occasions today [the 16th of June 2008]. The first was when I was I
heard a rumour that my university had decided that books in our library were not necessary as the students can
find the information they need online.
Arrrrrrgh. It's an annoyance of mine that information on the web is not edited or peer referenced - and so is
just a matter of opinion [like this article]. My books, on the other hand, are put through a rigorous regime
of checks and balances before being published - and that is before, during and after I have done the research,
analysis and writing necessary to produce the content.
And guess what? I don't write books for no reward
[though it is very small], and the folks at the publishers all want paying as well. So you pay for a book
because it has some guarantee of quality and accuracy. OK, yes there is some good stuff online - the links
from this website prove that. But the 140,000 words of
- a Practical Approach' online for free? That's not going to happen.
The second time free content crossed my path today was the results of research from
Dynamic Logic. Whilst not about free content per se, it looked at consumer's perceptions of ads.
As you can see from the chart [Source: Dynamic Logic], folks don't like ads on web pages much. Remember, these are the pages that are
free - essentially the ads pay for the content. And yet we are much more accepting of ads in newspapers and
magazines - you know, that content we are quite willing to pay for.
So why do we accept that ad-riddled hard-copies of information have to be paid for and yet we are (a) not willing to
pay for such content online, or (b) accept it for free and put up with the surrounding ads?
Answers on a post card to ...
This article was written circa 2008