This morning, I started a short journey on John Gruber’s blog. From there, I read Rob Sayre’s post, which finally lead me to click the ARS link, although I would have found the article myself further down my feed list.
Finally, in the interests of completeness, I hit the rebuttal link in the Mozilla post. It was this post that really inspired me to action, although the topic itself is an interesting and thorny one.
Brian Carper, in my humble opinion, is a loon.
His diatribe on why he feels justified in installing an ad-blocker is short-sighted, foolish, and in some places, simply wrong.
Unlike Mr. Carper, I do see the necessity of adverts (as do many of his commenters). The internet simply wouldn’t run without them. Google, Mozilla Foundation, and thousands of hugely important contributors to the online world would never have existed without it.
Since moving this blog to my own server, the overheads for running it have fallen to nearly zero - I use an old desktop machine to serve it and my home broadband copes just fine with the bandwidth. I’m under no illusions though that my audience of 2 (hey bro!) and my entirely non-professional writing skillz are a very long way from where organisation like Ars are.
Advertising has long been a thorny issue - I’m lucky enough living in the UK that I actually have 5 TV stations and a whole bunch of radio stations to choose from that don’t carry adverts at all. For the privilege, I pay around £150 per year, tax.
There’s no way that this model could ever work on the internet. Even a direct subscription model consistently fails to work - take the Ars subscription as an example:
Ars Premier is only $50 a year, just pennies a day. Sign up to find out what you’ve been missing.
They’re right, it is cheap, much less than buying a newspaper every day! The trouble is, I’ll never pay it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an Ars-hating moron like the venerable Mr. Carper, but it just isn’t a model that works for me. My RSS Feed currently contains 46 subscriptions. I value the information each brings into my feedbox every day but if they were all to suddenly decide to start charging me each month, I’d find myself trimming the list down to about one or two. I don’t read all of the posts all of these feeds provide, I dip in and out, select the stuff that’s interesting to me, paying for all of them just wouldn’t work for me.
I know I’m not alone in feeling this way, but what is the solution?
For me, I’m more than happy to count in the advert eyeball stats, as long as companies are willing to pay other companies for ad-space, why should it matter to me? I actually find the advert layout on Ars entirely unobtrusive and largely relevant, I rarely click them, but then, I rarely want the stuff they’re offering - that’s entirely within the ‘contract’ of advertising.
I would probably be interested in some kind of Micropayment system, but only if I only ever need one provider. I don’t want 5 different accounts all with a few quid in. I wonder if something like OpenID could work in the micropayment space - you sign up to your provider, who adheres to a set of interface standards for transactions, when I want to make a payment I just stick in who my provider is and off we go.
There’s a whole other post about why people choose to install ad-blockers. The biggest part of it is the dreadful entitlement culture that is slowly growing. The status-quo won’t last forever, but hopefully the internet will be able to react and adapt quicker than the Newspaper, Music and Publishing industries!