Friday, July 16, 2010

Who Could Have Predicted?

Rupert Murdoch takes the U.K. Times behind a pay-wall:

My sources say that not only is nobody subscribing to the website, but subscribers to the paper itself—who have free access to the site—are not going beyond the registration page. It’s an empty world.

The wider implications of this emptiness are only just starting to become clear. A Murdoch and Fleet Street veteran with whom I’ve been corresponding about the paywall reported to me on his recent conversation with an A-list entertainment publicist: “What was really interesting to me was that this person volunteered a blinding realization. ‘Why would I get any of my clients to talk to the Times or the Sunday Times if they are behind a paywall? Who can see it? I can't even share a link and they aren't on search. It’s as though their writers don't exist anymore.’”

And a glimpse behind that pay-wall:

The other side...allows us a peek on the dystopian nightmare that would have been the Internet if developed by corporations, and it is on a par with the current state of academic journals online. In order to undo what the Internet is meant to do, that is to hyperlink, Murdoch has spent a fortune developing a shiny interface that let us navigate through an exact reproduction of the paper thing. It is DRM by design: there is no way to copy and paste, to store, therefore to link, to annotate or to use in any meaningful sense of the word beyond a reading experience that is, as a result, as uncomfortable as it gets. The technical constraints that all this restraining impose make navigating and reading impractical and painful.

1 comment:

BlastFurnace said...

The last quote is precisely why tne NYT gave up on their "Select" business model. It simply proved unworkable. Not to mention many of its columnists didn't like being cut off from its audience that was outside of the academic world.

No question give it time, and the London Times' scribes will similarly revolt.

Hasn't Murdoch heard of web advertising? Or of linking his newspapers to his other media properties, including Faux News and Sky (which at least maintains the pretense of being neutral)? Not to mention MySpace?