DQ: Is $0.00 Really the Future of Business?

Is the internet really shifting towards a completely free model?

I think that it is interesting that Chris Anderson’s article in Wired uses the example of the New York Times going to a free mode of access circa 2008, while since then, they and other media outlets, such as Time, The Wall Street Journal, and soon the Washington Post, have created paywalls in order to access content. To me, Anderson’s statement that:

A decade and a half into the great online experiment, the last debates over free versus pay online are ending

does not seem to be entirely true anymore. Arguably, the paywalls are not just protecting “premium content,” but almost all content. Another example is that Hulu used to be completely free, but now access to older episodes and older shows now requires a paid account. What could be causing these trends, and what is the potential impact? Following Lessig’s 2 economies basis, have these media companies, many of whom also distribute content in “traditional media,”  been trying to navigate their way between commercial and sharing economies over the last decade (and settling somewhere closer to the former)? Does the need to create paywalls suggest that we are in a part of Tim Wu’s “cycle,” in the problem discovery stage? And what are the implications of the continuing free versus pay debate?


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