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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Dec. 13, 2005 / 12 Kislev, 5766

There's no such thing as a free Web

By Edward Wasserman


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The notion that Internet content is generally ''free'' is one of the cyberworld's most cherished lies.

In fact, Internet economics is complex and bizarre. It consists of overlapping levels of subsidy, direct payment and covert transfers, along with under-the-table bribes to Web users for personal information most of us don't know we're giving up.

But free it's not. One way or the other, somebody's always paying. Usually, that's you.

A great deal of content is funded through straight-up subsidy. Stories, weblogs, commentary — much is produced by people whose day jobs spill over onto the Web. If the authors are freelancers, they are providing uncompensated labor. This column may be picked up by any number of blogs and read by people who pay nothing for it. They think it's free; it's not. It costs me plenty, in time and sweat. In these cases, it's the content producers who do the paying.

Funded by stealth

If the content is posted by media organizations on ''free'' sites, the online audience may not pay, but the offline audience does. The cost is reflected in the subscription price or the ad rates charged for, say, the newspaper's print edition. One set of customers is likely paying to inform and amuse another set of customers, one of the less charming features of ''free'' cyberspace.

More and more content is funded by stealth: furtive marketing devices that enable audiences to be identified, targeted and hit with sales messages. The keywords you plug into your Google search — Google auctions them to advertisers to get their pop-ups alongside the search results. Your Web-based e-mail — it's paid for by marketers who buy the right to scan messages for telltales that qualify you as a potential customer so they can put ads on your screen.

Are those services ''free''? True, you're don't pay with cash. But you do pay, with precisely the same things you normally sell for dollars — your time and attention.

This isn't a trick of language. It's important to realize that all of these models are systems of payment, which extract costs from someone and confer benefits on someone, often someone else. Somebody's always paying. Print subscribers pay for services used by online readers. Consumers of advertised products pay, through their purchases, for Web sites. Forget ``free.''

Quantifying value

The problem is that none of them offers a clean, logical way to do what markets are supposed to do: Enable buyers to pay sellers for what they use and to ensure that content producers are compensated by the people who benefit from their creations.

The ideal would be an arrangement in which producers are rewarded for the value they create. That is tough to measure, but quantifying value is exactly what markets do. It would be reflected in the numbers of people who read or view the content, and that would be only part of the picture. Specialized content of intense interest to fewer people would command higher prices. So pay rates would have flexibility.

Such are the broad lines of an Internet content market. Producers would be credited when their content was downloaded. They could code their content, setting a price. If the work originates with a news organization, its account would receive the micro-payments.

Hence, the system would be engineered to register not only charges but credits, since Internet users are often information sources. If you upload content viewed by others, you'd benefit from offsets against your usage. You'd be not only a paying customer, you'd be a paid producer.

Alternative isn't pretty

At the end of the month, along with your other utility bills, you'd be charged directly for your Internet activity. And the producers of content that you used would be paid for the value they created — not for the advertisers or employers they helped feed.

This would require assembling a generalized payment system. But standardization wouldn't be any tougher than the Web protocols or domain naming systems that have long been in use, and the technical sophistication couldn't be any greater than the diabolically complex wizardry that is used right now to track, record, compile and resell all kinds of data about what you do online.

It may be fanciful, but the alternative isn't pretty. That's what we're lurching toward now, a costly system of producer subjugation wholly dominated by the goals of sales and manipulation, arrayed under the banner of freedom.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Edward Wasserman is a writer and consultant who lives in Miami. He wrote this column for The Miami Herald.Comment by clicking here.

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