More about the notion of “free”; We actually all pay the price

“If you aren’t paying for it; you’re the product” is not a modern notion, yet we keep repeating history.

It feels a little ironic to write a post on this notion on a service that comes from folks so closely linked to Twitter, and also on a “share crop” URL vs. my own blog.

It hasn’t been a shock to folks how Twitter is locking in on its content and becoming a company focused on making money through monetizing via a form of advertising versus the other path… the path where they could have been a service bus for the Internet. In that world we would have a pubsub model on top of structured data elements (more Open Graph than 140 characters). Who knows that that world would have looked like, but I am sad that we didn’t get to see.

I just wrote about how awful the NBC Olympic coverage was and it got me thinking about these advertising models. How great it is that we get so much for “free”! In fact, we all pay. We all have to watch commercials and at a large rate… as after all only a subset of value is extracted (and the industry doesn’t even really know). AdWords/AdSense came out of a world where we can measure these things. For every X people who click on ads that deliver some value, how many…. (2000X?) have to see the ads. Google does a pretty decent job of keeping the ads out of the way, so for many of those services you could feel good about that exchange. TV commercials? not for me.

How about Twitter putting more and more ads in play and castrating killing third party experiences? Still too early to call. Twitter has been moving pretty slowly (in a good way) and my feed isn’t swamped yet. Unfortunately we are beholden to their experiments to find a business model that is large enough to satisfy their investors. We can all jump on and try to see if we can make it the HBO of microblog services, but that is a tough ask.

Spreading out the costs can work, but more and more I just want to pay for great experiences that deliver me value (or at least perceived value). That is why I love Kickstarter. What do you think?

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