felix salmon on the dismal economics of paywalls
And meanwhile, the richness of the web does not mean that news sites, say, are competing mainly with each other. If Newsday puts up a paywall and it fails, is that because readers can find content similar to Newsday’s elsewhere for free? Yes, in part. But it’s also because the people who would otherwise visit Newsday.com have lots of other things they also like to do. They like to spend time in Farmville, or they want to watch a video of a dog skateboarding, or they want to see their house on Google Earth, or they want to go walk their dog. These aren’t people who need certain information and are going to seek it out at the lowest cost; they’re just people who would visit Newsday’s website if it was free, but won’t if it isn’t.
I love this bit of Felix Salmon's excellent post on paywalls. The web (and life!) offer many more alternatives to a paywall'd news site.
Theory: social surfing (i.e. clicking on links your friend, family and other things you follow / like in Twitter and Facebook) creates much more random patterns of Internet behavior than pre-Twitter / Facebook. It's no longer "let's go check the news and the weather and the sports" it's "let's go check the Facebook news feed and WHOA there goes an hour clicking on things, I should really go take the dog for a walk."