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|I Am Skooter|
So here's us, on the raggedy edge.
It seems like in just the last few weeks, pretty much everything on the Globe & Mail web site has moved towards a pay-per-use model. This doesn’t bode well.
From a technological perspective, there are two ways to look at the internet. The first is the freedom of distribution model: using the internet, your distribution is no longer limited by geographic area in any way - you can push your content out to any corner of the world at no incremental cost to you. Information, it’s often said, wants to be free; this is how you achieve that.
On the other hand, the internet also allows you to severely control your distribution. Content can be locked down by a variety of means ranging from passwords (easy to share) to IP address (difficult to share.) The techno-literate have persistently found ways around virtually every method of content control, but for the average person these restrictions can be highly effective.
The Globe Canada’s National Newspaper—has chosen to lock their content down, severely restricting the flow of information. For years now, the Globe remained the only substantially free newspaper web site in Canada, with the National Post and other CanWest publications having crossed the rubicon years ago. This gave the Globe a special stature, shared with the New York Times in the United States, which is without doubt North America’s daily.
This last part is what concerns me: not the technological aspect, but the content aspect. If the Globe and Mail is truly “Canada’s National Newspaper” it is only hurting itself by restricting access. The Globe’s reach is due, in large part to its ubiquity: every library & coffee shop across the country has a Globe & Mail in it somewhere; this content is already free. All of the Globe’s content gets put into Infoglobe, a searchable archive available at most public libraries.
I’m not sure what prompted this move: perhaps, and probably, a lack of advertising and advertising dollars. If this is the case I can imagine any number of better solutions: by registering users, the Globe could collect enough personal information to present highly targeted advertising, thus increasing the value of each click.
The Globe has also never done a good job of using email to push their headlines out to visitors: it seems to me that I registered for a list, and they certainly have my email address on file but I have not once received a daily email message with a list of the Globe’s headlines. This is a stark contrast to the situation at CanWest, from whom I get at least 3 updates a day (including the Ottawa headlines.)
There are better solutions for Canada’s national newspaper: charging money is an easy solution, but a bad one.