Date : 05/29/35
Pay to Surf
(what the web really needs)

T   
he internet that Tim Berners Lee set up has a major flaw that no one can do anything about. It is a reflection of a flaw in the character of Mr. Lee and many other internet founders. That flaw is "irrational idealism".

This is the very prevalent belief in Western civilization that things which are designated "for the welfare of the public" should be available to all ... equally ... without prejudice ... and, most importantly ... free of commercialism, i.e. "free of charge". What I wish to accomplish with this page is to convince the reader that "almost free of charge" is a much better way for the public to go.

In the next year or two it is possible that I will retire my website

There are sound reasons for doing so not the least of which is the fact that I am getting old and am spending too much time on something that gives no return on that investment. Certainly, it has been an enjoyable hobby but when the day is done I have nothing to show for it. If I had stuck with playing the piano for the past eight years I would have that skill. If I had a hobby of painting, I would have pictures to show (and maybe even sell). But for my internet hobby, I have nothing but "vaporware". When my domain name comes up for renewal next year, I may just pass and take it as the occasion to put this pastime to rest.

I don't think the average person quite realizes what a golden opportunity the Web was.

Back in the Renaissance, if any man could paint a picture which was deemed skillfully done ... he fame was assured for if he did it once, he could do it again. Hence, future employment was certain ... hence, total fairness without dependence on anything other than the value of his art in the eyes of those who paid the bills. And their sense of an artwork's worth was reality based. You couldn't possibly pass off "modern art" on these people. They would have been insulted. They demanded the presence of actual skill, i.e. the artist must do things that the viewer is incapable of due to the artist's years of disciplined training.

The point here is that there was a free avenue to advancement and influence in that civilization ... if ... you could get your hands on some paint, canvas, brushes, time to study. Today, you could get all these things but there is no objective standard to measure the value of art so this avenue to influence is now closed in principle.

The World Wide Web is NOT CLOSED de jure

However, the web is "de facto" closed off by the above named sinister defect. That is, I ... as a content manufacturer ... am expected to deliver everything gratis else I am a "materialist" and not an "idealist". Here the definition of an idealist is someone who gives it away for free and a materialist is someone who charges money (is interested in filthy lucre).

I prefer to be neither. There is a middle ground that I see as extremely desirable to the culture in general. You may understand this from the following.

The modest proposal ...

Suppose that everyone who surfed the net was required to pay 1 cent to any web site he visited as the price of admission for the day. Thus, you could use Google all day for one cent. You could access my site all day for one cent, etc. Do you think that the service provided by Google is worth a maximum of $3.65 per year? I certainly would be willing to pay that amount. And the same for Yahoo. But after the most useful sites, one would pay less because one would visit less. I am sure that I have some people coming to my site on a weekly basis (given my stats info). So there would then be a few thousand people who thought my site was worth fifty cents per year.

For sure, if such a system were in place, I would lose some traffic. But I think I would still clear 5-10 dollars per day ... instead of nothing at all each and every day. Of course, if one gets enough traffic one could splatter ads all over ones site and make money that way. but is that what you want?

For the average surfer who looks at maybe 10 or 20 sites per day, the fees mount up. Twenty cents per day for 365 days is what ... $6 bucks per month. Wow! Who could possibly afford that!? Right ... anyone with a computer and a job. In such ways anyone with something to say of importance could rise to the top of the heap from nothing ... unassisted by anything other than that one cent charge. He wouldn't have to eat any advertising shit or compromise his ideas or ideals at all for anybody. Total democracy in action. Vote with your penny.

That's why they say on the street in New York City

Money talks, bullshit walks

I am always haunted by the advice that Danny Thomas gave to his daughter.

"If what you are doing is worthwhile,
someone will be willing to pay you to do it.
If not, perhaps you should try to do
something else with your life."

I believe that what I am trying to do on the web is worthwhile ... but I get nothing for it. Perhaps it is not worthwhile. Do you see the philosophical dilemma? One may try to remain idealistic but if nothing at all is forthcoming, the idealism fades and the muted echo one hears constantly is ... "sucker ...".

Idealism for nothing is a vice. For, being a sucker is not laudable.
For a small amount of cash it becomes a virtue.
For a large amount it can easily become a vice once again.
The muted voice you hear then is ... "sellout ..."

And what about the email ...

If each email were to cost a penny, there wouldn't be any spam to speak of. How much would this hurt your wallet? I send maybe 100-200 emails per year. That's 2 bucks. Hell, I could take even a ten dollar hit per year. Think of the extra bandwidth available.

What if your ISP charged you one cent per three minutes online. For 20 bucks you'd get 100 hours per month. Isn't that enough? Want more? Then pay for it as you use it. That way I don't have to subsidize your music downloads.

But doubtless none of this can be done. It's probably too late for such a major change.



Not a "vice"     ;o)

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