You may have read, “the end of free is near” for content on the web. There is even a high profile blog devoted to it. But I beg to differ. Consider this:
The number of amateur sites and blogs far outweighs the number of heavyweights and big media content providers. In fact the amount of quality content since the wide-spread emergence of blogs is so great, that the actual content provided by the big players is negligible by comparison. But the story goes, that these higher quality writers need to make a living. Sure, I’m not arguing that, but there are just as many high quality writers who have their own blogs and make money through advertisers. And when you take the advent of smart news aggretators like Amphetadesk, it only makes the task of getting the news you need that much easier. When a site starts charging for content, the Net effect will treat such charged content as censorship and route around it.
So what is my prediction? I’m predicting the opposite of other more prominent techno-pundits: 2003 will be the year of the end of “the end of free”. Instead we’ll see a massive proliferation of amateur (and professional) writers permeate the net in unprecendented ways. And with increasingly sophisticated filtering and search tools, we will be able to keep up with the best of the best based on our own web-of-trust and customized reputation systems. I also expect the best writers will continue to get paid handsomely for their work through direct online e-book publishing, and voluntary tipping mechanisms.