Would YOU pay for YOUR webcruise?

August 17, 2009: 10:46 AM ET

twitterRupert Murdoch says that he plans to put his content, which covers the known world and some others as well, behind a firewall so that people will have to pay for it. He thinks the future of web content will be pay-as-you-go. Today's New York Times has a nice puff piece today about the Financial Times, which also charges people for access to its content on the internet. So on the one hand, there seems to be a groundswell moving to make charging for content the hipster move on the web.

On the other hand, the only really hot spots in the cloud are free. Would anybody pay for YouTube? If it cost 5-cents per tweet, would there be so many tweeters? How about Facebook? Would millions of lonely, homebound losers be encapsulating their lives in all their digital splendor if they had to whip out a credit card to do so? Or Google? Would we thoughtlessly search a billion times a year if at the end of every month we were awarded a bill that tabulated the cost of every click?

My opinion is that media has always been driven by advertising that users can choose to entertain or ignore. Even newspapers -- which would seem to break that mold by charging a pittance for their content -- have been subsidized by their advertising for centuries. The moment I hit a site that asks me for money, I simply navigate to calmer waters.

How about you? The big media outlets are all abuzz with the financial plans of online entities to move to a new business model based on subscriptions. Would you pay for the stuff you do online? I mean, the clean stuff?

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