Interesting that he says only about 1% of all people comment. First of all, I think it is incredibly high. I bet there are a lot of sites that would love to get that kind of engagement.
Secondly, how much did he look into the analytics of how many people read the comments? I don't often comment on sites, but I almost always read the comments, especially on my favourite sites. That's added value for me.
I've been a longtime fan of Techdirt, and wish you congratulations on 15 years of solid blogging, but I'm really not a fan of these "look back" posts. Maybe on a monthly basis, they're okay. But on a daily basis? No thanks.
I come to Techdirt for great writing and good insights on new developments, not to look back at the good old days. Live in the now and the future, not the past.
I think its also worth mentioning that Doctorow's plan wouldn't be successful if he didn't do such a good job with the CwF part of the equation: he frequently interacts with his fans on BoingBoing (for free!), and learns what THEY want to read about while getting them interested in in what he is writing about it.
I'm not a huge fan of his writing, but I certainly applaud this move by him.
I might not be reading the article closely enough, but it seems like people aren't making a lot of money based on people BUYING apps.
What about free apps, like the Pizza Hut one that enables you to order pizzas through your iPhone? Surely things like this must be making money for people (and I realize this is a slightly different issue than making money directly by sale of the app).