Public Resource or Profit Machine?
Web 2.0 is what they call it now. Some say this era is bygone; others think it is just beginning. Regardless of individual beliefs, one thing is certain: a choice is coming.
Everyone has heard that you can’t make money online. And that’s partially true. Let’s face it, the internet is a very free exchange, in both senses of the term. With this in mind, let’s take a look at the top three reasons the internet is going to change:
It’s the economy, stupid
We’re in a recession, and times are bad. Companies can no longer afford to offer online services at marginal gain or possible loss. To survive, profits must be generated, and the current revenues just aren’t making the cut.
Yeah, pretty blunt. But that’s how things are. People do stuff to make money, and will stop doing stuff if there’s no money to be had. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there folks, and the internet is the latest fighting pit.
Pa–Per is Dead
Everything is going digital. And that means money-making as well. Brick-and-mortar institutions are rapidly becoming antiquities. I mean, you can even order pizza online now for goodness’ sake.
The way I see it, the push is unstoppable — the internet must change, and do so quickly. Otherwise, it’ll be like everyone ending up in line with a disappeared ticket booth for the latest Miley Cyrus show.
It seems like there are pretty much only three options available: completely commercialize the internet, let it fail, or maybe it is the time, in the words of the Monty Python crew, “for something completely different.”
Similar to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, I believe that the internet should be divided into a “two-state solution” of sorts. In this framework, the public-private notion of a mixed economy is simply extended into the realm of cyber space:
Shared (Public Resource)
The equivalent of the Social Security, online-style. This subset of the internet becomes a repository of knowledge, an aggregation of the collective accumulation of thoughts and ideas.
Funded by tax dollars, in this contributors are compensated based upon quality and significance of their contributions. Like SS, there’s not that much money in it, but it helps out everyone.
Private (Profit Machine)
The internet’s version of hedge funds — people go in it to win it. Here is where the money is made, products exchanged, and commerce generated.
Powered by private investment and public consumerism, this arena would be rife with advertisements, product reviews, and pop-up ads.
The primary purposes of this layer-cake approach are to first, accommodate the growing pressures of monetizing the internet, and second, attempt to separate fact from fact-that-is-actually-advertisement.
We all know the internet is oftentimes a cesspool of false advertising driven by an insatiable desire to increase profits.
Should this drive be given room for expression in an isolated arena, the public repository of information that the internet should be is safeguarded.
In the end, we can make our greatest technology into both a knowledge-saver and a money-maker at the same time.