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PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2001 9:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've heard a lot about "micropayments" and the like. Thought about them a lot too, especially since my own two online strips combined got over 200,000 hits last month. That teeny little voice that says "if you could only have gotten ONE PENNY PER HIT, you could have quit your job by now...."

But I just don't see it happening. The hurdles are just too many and too high.

1)The internet has been, from its inception, a "free exchange" medium. It's by now an ingrained belief that everything online should be free and clear-- especially after having to pony up every month simply to access.

2)Too many people can too easily circumvent any "pay" system.... often simply by going to another site that offers the same content (albeit illicitly) for free. The old saw is that the internet sees censorship as damage and routes around it... unfortunately it sees billing, even for pennies a hit, in the same way.

3)Any feasible billing method opens both the user and the producer to all sorts of nasty vulnerabilities. Any payment system would have to involve the exchange of sensitive personal information, which is the prime target of truly nasty illegal ambitions-- ID and personal information theft, to begin with. Most people would seriously object to submitting their credit card numbers to an unknown, simply for the sake of a penny-ante purchase of a comic strip or even a collection of comic strips.

4)Most human transaction is for *tangible goods and services.* Even purchase of a newspaper or music CD involves walking away with an item you can heft in your hand. I'll buy a newspaper just to read the funnies, sure-- but I still have a chunk of paper I can wrap a fish in, if I want. The less tangible a purchase, the more substantial the intangible satisfaction must be.... and comic strips and online comic books are just not aesthetically satisfying enough for most people.

5)With perhaps the exception of live performances, Entertainment in today's society relies as much on advertising, sponsorship and merchandising as it does on the actual entertainment content for its income. The idea of paying for something without "getting the free T-shirt" is probably anathema to most customers today...

6)the reason that the gluttonous middleman exists (the RIAA, the comic syndicates) is that he fulfils the role of the "dedicated surfer" McCloud describes... his job is to search out talent the kids will like and present it to them. A dedicated surfer would soon take up the same overweening role as the modern music agent and syndicate CEO... taking the same big bite out of the artist's pay.

7)Anyway, we are still a MASS media society--- we expect large groups of people to convince us to part with our money. the Mini-media movement-- the internet-- is not so persuasive. Ironically, we will part with $20 on speculation on a book or CD-- but 2 cents a pop to browse a formerly free webpage is just too much for us.
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