Tuesday, 8 December 2009

The Internet in 2009

There was a great piece in today's Independent about how much the internet has changed all our lives. Both in a positive way and a negative way. But there's one issue that I keep seeing cropping up time and time again and that's the 'should it all be free?' issue.

Rupert Murdoch has been particularly vocal about the issues that he has with the BBC but the reason he's so cross is simple. He can't figure out how to make his papers websites profitable and the BBC doesn't need to worry about that. They have an iconic and trusted brand that we all pay for via our licence fee (if you live in the UK) and they produce one of the most popular websites in the world. It's simple to navigate, fact driven and when compared to the Independent's site (as an example) shines like a beacon. Murdoch can't compete and print media, sadly, is slowly dying. As soon as we're able to get a system working where WiFi is available everywhere (surely on the cards) people will just access the news on their phones and laptops where ever they are without bothering to pick up a paper. A great example is the article that I've provided above. You can click the link and read the article that I read this morning for free, I paid a pound for the privilege. A whole generation is getting used to accessing information on line, they simply don't buy papers.

However this does produce a problem, this online socialist revolution of ours. If there's no one paying to read who pays the writers?

We're all so information hungry. When someone on twitter, that you follow and like, highlights a link as interesting, you click on it and have a read. For free. Surely that's not sustainable. Is it?

I've been thinking about it all day. It is social revolution and I like that side of it. People have got used to this web based encyclopaedia of everything and they've got used to having access to it for free. If Murdoch starts trying to charge for his websites people are going to go else ware for their news. That's quite powerful in its own way. The people saying 'no'. But at the same time we still want quality journalism. Quandary huh?

I don't have an answer but I can see how things can evolve and I understand writing for pleasure not payment. I won't even have Adsense adverts on here, tempting though it might be, for fear of damaging the blogs integrity. Writing on here, without the pressure of meeting a deadline or sharing something cool, that someone else has made and posted with twitter or facebook for free, never fails to give me a buzz. That's why I do it, so maybe that's where the quality journalists and commentators will end up. With day jobs, working in shops, sharing their thoughts with you via some kind of collective on the internet. Either that or the cream rises to the top and they go work for the BBC. One of the joys of the last year for me has been finding other people's blogs and the wealth of talented writing that is out there. I'd love to get close to some of the output that's available.

As much as I understand Murdoch's problem, I don't sympathise. Twitter and Diary of a Ledger have taught me a lot in ten months. It's good to give stuff away for nothing even if sometimes that's hard work after, 'a days work'. Have a great evening.