Social Networking Blog

Guy Clapperton on the evolving new media

Has this been free for too long?

One of the odder elements of social media is that we’re becoming so accustomed to getting so much for free. There was outrage the other week when YouTube dared suggest music videos should be chargeable. Now the same people are going to separate out premium content from the ordinary stuff.

It’s going to make things clearer for the end user of course; what’s bewildering to me is why we expect so much for free in the first place. Blogs, newspapers, loads of content are all on the Web free of charge. Many videos and entertainments on YouTube are there for you to help yourself. I’m writing this blog in the hope that it’ll draw attention to my book when it comes out in October by all means, but for no direct payment.

Social media is slowly training all of us to expect loads of stuff for nothing. Hopefully the YouTube move will be the first stage of nudging us towards paying for at least some of it – or else why will future content creators bother uploading?

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March 30, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , ,


  1. Aren’t users used to expecting free and low cost content on a regular basis – even away from the social web?

    Look at the success of free publications (such as the free papers in London) distributed without charge, and completely funded by advertising.

    I completely side with content creators in that without incentive to create, society will miss out on some really creative content; but surely a fair revenue distribution system could be reached by an advertising network?

    Perhaps the right kind of reform is a taking a system like AdSense, and turning it more in favour of the content publishers.

    Comment by Chris Southgate | March 30, 2009

  2. That makes a lot of sense. The issue for me is that the London papers are following an established industry norm, whereas web advertising is still evolving – particularly for the smaller niche website, whereas a niche writer can get a toehold in a newspaper or magazine and secure a decent rate.

    But you certainly raise some interesting issues and yes, the expectation is led from the free papers well outside the social media, I’d overlooked that completely.

    Comment by guyclapperton | March 30, 2009

  3. One reason why so much online stuff is free or ad supported is that there is no satisfactory way of charging for low value content – down to price points as low as a few pence. That may change shortly!

    Comment by Jonathan Jensen | March 30, 2009

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