This Article`s Price Tag – Thinking about the Value of “Free” Information on the Internet
Behind every holiday photo, every travel tip and every travel blog hides the work and action of a human being. It`s not google, not facebook and not flickr who produce all these kinds of content; people do.
I am on my way to Luxembourg. I took the train, even though I`d planned to hitchhike! It was raining heavily when I wanted to start my trip, so I went directly to the Zurich Mainstation, had my camera problem fixed, bought a book and jumped on the train to Basel. The book I bought turned out to be more interesting than expected. Its author is Jaron Lanier. He depicts his version of the future, the digital future. One of the main argument of his book called Who Owns The Future? is that information and in particular the use of information (on the internet) shouldn`t be free.
In any possible way you can think of; neither is any computing machine allowed to use your openly provided data for free, nor are you allowed to access any kind of information for totally nothing.
Well, that makes me think about my own blog … I ask myself: What is the value of a travel blog that is actually free of charge? And what is the value of each article I write? I detect two difficulties:
Problem Number One: Only the reader or the addressee of an article of mine can decide how much a particular piece of information is worth to him or her!
The problem after problem number one: How is the created value to monetize?
Even if two different people value an article eaually, their willingess and ability to pay could differ massively. Or the other way round: Even if the willingess and the ability to pay of two individuals are similar, they most certainly will end up valueing a piece of information differently.
So how could I possibly fix a price?
Well, either I let the readers propose the monetized value for them by putting up a poll, or I set a price by myself. But by what criteria? Maybe I could fix it firstly according to the cost of the “information production” (like the working hours) + secondly according to my assumption of the value an article might provide for the reader.
Derived from the first point mentioned, the contribution of every single user of a given piece of information varies enormously depending on the amount of people using this information. For example: The more readers one of my posts attracts, the smaller is the amount of money per user to fully cover my production costs.
The second point is about the value gain for each reader which can differ largely. The payment method in this case would have to be highly complex to include all the different gains for each indivdual.
“Gopferdeckel”, I am puzzled!* So what shall I do?
I will have to simplify the whole price setting process and provide you at the end of each article with two price tags: One that includes only the production costs and one that includes the possible value for every single reader.
Cool, isn`t it?
Some final words: You don`t have to worry too much. You will be able to read my blog articles free of charge as long as this blog is of interest to you. The world will not change that fast. But I hope you enjoyed this play of thought as much as I did!
Your pricey Patric Ganz, alias Traveling_Pat
*A Swiss German swear word expression that is not translatable into English!
PS: Jaron Lanier states (p. 20) that in a world of digital dignity, each individual will be the commercial owner of any data that can be measured from that person`s state or behavior. By contributing only a nanopayment to people who produce valuable information (such as me), you not only help me to get along but you also contribute to a world of digital dignity! A contribution absolutely worthwhile once you`ve read Jaron`s vision of what the other option would be.