When I signed up for Scribd about a month and a half ago, I had no idea that, two months from when I uploaded material to the document-sharing site, that it would be “archived” and that I’d have to pay to see it again.
Oh, I’m sure in the esoteric license agreement or other such mumbo-jumbo that I didn’t read but agreed to anyway that the paywall after two months was mentioned. But really, my first inkling of any such paywall comes from this cnnmoney.com article.
I have to admit I’m not willing to pay to read my own stuff.
That’s terribly worrying, because it’s probably a sign that nobody else will want to pay, either.
Has it come to this? Have we really entered a world where the written word has less value than, as Stanley Bing puts it so eloquently, a roll of paper towels?
There are circumstances under which I'm more than willing to pay for a commodity. Paper towels. Spreadable cheese. A piece of research I can get nowhere else on the dangers of not changing your socks. But the idea of registering myself and logging in every time I want to get the weather or a recipe or the random musings of somebody like me... I don't think so.Yes, there’s the popular cow analogy, as put succinctly by one of Bing’s commenters:
Why buy a cow? 'Cause you can make nice steak and 'burgers out of it. It's the bovine final product, a.k.a. "bullsh...t" that is free of charge. And since there are [sic] plenty of that around, just go to the place that will shovel it to you for free. No need to huff and puff, even if you do hate selling that product you are selling. Just keep repeating in your mind: "exceed the quota - get the bonus".In other words: A lot of the stuff on the web is free for a reason. There’s a reason I don’t charge for reading the drivel on this blog.
But there are business decisions to be made. I’d much rather be a WordPress blogger, as that system has the added features and flexibility I’d like to use in a blog. But since you have to pay for your own hosting with WordPress, I’ll stick with Blogger. It’s free. If I suddenly had to pay per blog, you’d certainly see me bid a quick goodbye to my ancillary sites and, if the cost were too dear, this blog as well.
It’s a business conundrum. Hosting all of this garbage isn’t cheap. Over at Uncharted, for example, it’s a problem for us, and we’ve got next to nothing stored on our servers (for which we pay monthly) compared to the big dogs on the social media spectrum. Maybe it costs Scribd less than a nickel a month to store my 187-page manuscript, but you know what, multiply that by tens of thousands of people storing their documents, and you can see why Scribd wants and needs to charge for its services in order to stay afloat. They’re in the business of business, though the pity is most web users out there think businesses ought to be in the business of charity, passing over everything they produce for free, simply because it’s on the web.
Please pass the Cheez Whiz. For free, preferably.