The Value Of The Link vs. The Value Of The Content
from the which-is-more-important dept
At this point, we’ve probably discussed the newly planned NY Times paywall enough, but a blog post by Reuters’ Felix Salmon made such a good point that it’s worth highlighting. In talking about the paywall, he notes, as I did originally, that people have a lot less incentive to link to the NY Times as they know it will be harder for others to make use of that link. That I understood, but Salmon made a key point that I hadn’t really thought about:
I suspect that what’s going to happen now is that as the moment of truth approaches, bloggers will increasingly search around for the NYT’s replacement as online paper of record: the way that blogs work is that they’re backed up by links to reliable sources, and a link is worthless if the person clicking on it risks running straight into a paywall, unable to read the information in question. The NYT’s journalism might well continue to be reliable, but its website won’t be, any more.
That point highlights the difference between valuing the content vs. valuing the conversation (or even valuing enabling the conversation). The top folks at the NY Times (and many other publications) seem to over-value the content and undervalue the conversation. Thus, they think that the content needs to be paid for, but don’t realize that they devalue their role in the conversation.
If you want to make the bet that the internet is more about content delivery than conversation and communication, then perhaps this makes sense. But, almost all signs point to the fact that it’s the conversation that’s the really important thing online, and devaluing that is almost certainly a mistake.