If you like it and are able, pay for it
I wrote a post recently about the likely demise of certain media. It focused on the proposition that while much media has traditionally been cross-subsidised by other, more lucrative revenue streams, the increasing transparency of non-profitable lines of business means that some of these media will close down.
Media owners are struggling. Bobby Johnson has just announced that he has taken the Guardian up on its offer of voluntary redundancy, and will be leaving at the end of March. The New York Times announced Wednesday that from next year, it will start charging for full access to its website. And whenever I pop along to Wikipedia, I’m faced with a plea from Jimmy Wales for contributions towards the Wikipedia Foundation. (As an aside, that’s no name for an internet entrepreneur. David Filo, Jerry Yang, Sergey Brin: yes. Jimmy Wales: noooo.)
It’s time we started to show our appreciation for what we like about the internet, from apps to content (in its broadest sense), and pay for or make donations towards these things. I like Wikipedia, so I’ll contribute. I like Freshbooks, so I’ve upgraded to the first tier of paid service, partly out of necessity, partly out of respect. Flickr: ditto. (And I happily pay my “TV” licence every year which helps fuel my love of the BBC News website.)
The one I’m struggling with is Google. I pay for Google advertising through AdWords. But I don’t pay for its core apps. offering, which I use heavily. The issue lies in the fact that the charging model is per domain rather than per email account. So the three or four temporary, administrative or lesser-profile accounts that I’ve set up all attract a charge. I’d love to be able to upgrade my own account (and I’d happily pay for this privilege) without having to do so for the wider set of accounts.
So in summary. If you like it, pay for it. Otherwise, you may lose it.