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Years from Now, What We’ll Miss about the Web

By Potomac Local News June 6, 2012 3:30 pm

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By URIAH KISER 

With the recent Transit of Venus, my wife and I began discussing how much life is left in the sun and how things might be different 100 years from now. We both know the sun is going nowhere anytime soon, and it’s the kind of pillow talk we have on a Tuesday night after a long day at work.

Our consensus is, however, things will be different.

If I had to sum up our current era, I would call it “insular convenience during a time of excess.” At no other time in our history has information been made so readily available, delivered to us on a device that fits in our pockets, a time when have we been so consumed with electronically promoting own lives, and when just about any food or drink is cooked to order and delivered through a window while you sit in the driver’s seat of your car.

I’m a media guy, so I’ll leave the fast food thing up to the experts, but information on the web since the 1990’s has been free.

That can’t all last. Can it?

The rise of free information sharing – we know it as social media — through MySpace, Facebook, and Google + are no exception. And, when one of these sites falters or stops being free, another one pops up in its place.

But, the information on the web can’t always be free if it’s to continue to be a sustainable source of information readers rely on and trust. How are we going to pay for it, and pay the trained people who work tirelessly to cultivate the information? If this trend continues, we’ll look back on a web we used to have and reminisce about all of the options that were available, and then miss them because we couldn’t find a way to pay for them.

New ideas like pay walls for news sites, delivering premium content to paid readers, and annual subscription services for websites are being looked at now as ways to fund the information gathering that fuels sites like PotomacLocal.com. None of these ideas are groundbreaking, but the notion to explore them is well overdue.

For media guys and girls, this will be the challenge of our lifetime: to find new ways of funding the kind of information gathering readers come to expect, and the kind they have never lost an appetite for. And, if something happens to Facebook – the number one site where information is delivered, shared, and monitored by marketers – causing it to no longer be free, when the new, free website rises in its place, isn’t that like doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? I know I’ve read that line somewhere.

 

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