Sunday, 17 April 2011

Off Topic But Worth Considering

The interweb is certainly a huge marketplace for ideas, and we know for products and services. I came across something almost two years ago in a technology column in the New York Times written by David Pogue, that has just been improved, and I think is worth considering (and no there's nothing in this for me). Think of this as a food for the head post.

Many of us spend a lot of time reading things on screens from web pages that have become very, very busy.  There's a service called Readability:
that once it's set-up (very easy) cleans up all of the clutter, and feeds back a very comfortable to read page. You have to be on-line obviously to do this.

The recent improvement to the service tackles something that I am a little bit sensitive about, the desire and expectation that everything on the internet should be free. I have absolutely no complaints writing this blog for free, and am thrilled that  people are actually reading it, BUT,  good journalism, investigative pieces, thoughtful and intelligent commentary, none of this comes cheap, and we've watched very well respected and established newspapers disappear through the recession as advertising revenue dried up, while people like me got to enjoy their material for nothing. It's not right.

The New York Times is trying for a second time to set up a pay wall with much more reasonable rates than the first time (about 50 cents a day now, and a limited number of pieces can be accessed for free) Other "quality" newspapers will watch this carefully to see how successful it is.

Readability offers something a little different.  For five dollars a month you get an account that can print, share or archive anything you read off the web that you think is worth keeping, and the service keeps track of material you download (only when you ask it to). It then makes very small payments to the media organizations that produce the material (and you can even direct it to NOT send money to media organization you don't like). At five dollars a month, these are obviously "fractions of penny" payments.   You can also use the service for free, but obviously there's no account to keep track of what you've read.

So you get a much better page to read:


Becomes this:

(you get to choose background colour, and font size,etc).

AND you know that you're paying a little bit of money for the written material that you're enjoying. And again, this has nothing to do with blog writers like myself getting paid, we do it only for the glory.

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