The Web Is More About Free Communication Than Transactions

from the pay-attention dept

Pistol points us to the news that a study out of the UK shows that the popularity of free online content and communication continues to grow, while transactional sites are losing marketshare. Now… the story is pitched a bit as “free beats paid,” but I’ll be the first to say that’s a bit unfair. First, we’re talking about marketshare here, not absolute numbers. Also, it’s a bit of an apples and oranges comparison to lump content and communication into one bucket and put it up against e-commerce related sites. So I don’t necessarily think this particular study is all that instructive in the whole “free” vs. “paid” debate.

However, what it does highlight is the fact that people still do view the web as a communication and conversational platform. This is a point that is important. The internet was always intended and used as a communication platform. Then, suddenly, there was a burst of latecomers in the 90’s who thought it was actually a marketplace platform. And in the last few years, there are many who believe it’s a broadcast platform. The neat thing is that, as a communications platform it can handle and allow those other things to take place (flexibility is great), but the core purpose of the internet has always been as a communications platform. Other stuff will happen and live on it, but pretending that it’s not a communication platform, and working to limit the ability to communicate online will always backfire.

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Comments on “The Web Is More About Free Communication Than Transactions”

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10 Comments
Lawrence D'Oliveiro says:

Connectivity Beats Content

The Internet was always more about connectivity than content (a lesson that content owners still seem unwilling to learn).

But I wonder if that isn’t also true of other communication channels as well: was mass media always more about connectivity than content? Look at what happened to Paul Holmes and Howard Stern when they tried to move networks—they may have still been providing the same content, but because their new forums had lower connectivity, they ended up losing most of their audience.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Connectivity Beats Content

When airwaves were first being used they were more like the Internet is now, a communication medium. Eventually big evil conglomerates started turning it into a broadcast medium where anything disagreeing with the status quo gets censored. Don’t be so quick to assume this will not happen to the Internet. I also think we need to take back some of the spectrum and allow people to use it to communicate and perhaps even allow companies like Google to offer Internet service with it, even if freely available to the community. Or even allow local cities to offer free Internet to their citizens if the citizens choose politicians that encourage it and the citizens are willing to pay the taxes to support the structure.

How I really think airwaves should work is that anyone should be able to go on the Internet and start their own radio station (be it talk or podcasts or tech or news or whatever) and then people in their cars can program the URLs of their favorite stations into their car radios. Upon tuning into a radio station, if the station is already being played in the area because others are listening then the tuner will automatically pick up on the signal. If not, the tuner will request the station and local satellites will automatically allocate some available bandwidth to that station (provided there is some). The radios of course would have to change to support digital (but digital would allow more stations to play per area) but the point is that now the radio becomes more relevant to what users want, stations that people don’t want to hear in a specific area at a specific time won’t take up any bandwidth in that area during that time. Of course a small amount of bandwidth would have to be allocated towards communication between the tuners and the local satellites for requests and for telling the tuner which frequency the satellite will allocate (or has allocated) a station to.

R. Miles (profile) says:

Re: Connectivity Beats Content

The Internet was always more about connectivity than content (a lesson that content owners still seem unwilling to learn).
Can you elaborate a bit more on this, because what would be the point of connectivity if the content doesn’t exist?

The initial development of the internet was about sharing data between two universities and this defaults to acquiring content in an easy-to-use communication device (browser).

The problem with the internet are from content owners trying to monetize the communication aspect, and that’s what they’re unwilling to learn from.

Sadly, when this idiocy proves true from one who actually did monetize the internet (before the competition blew it out of existence), it gave precedence to others thinking they can do the same.

It just sucks the rest of us have to endure this crap until they finally wake up and realize their mistake.

iNtrigued (profile) says:

Re: Re: Connectivity Beats Content

Can you elaborate a bit more on this, because what would be the point of connectivity if the content doesn’t exist?

I believe he was talking about people connecting with other people not so much just files sitting on a server somewhere.

In other words:
Connectivity = People connecting to other people.
Content = People connecting to files on a server.

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