Paul Graham has posted an essay questioning whether we ever really paid for "content," as publishers of news and music are saying while they struggle to stay afloat in the digital age. "If the content was what they were selling, why has the price of books or music or movies always depended mostly on the format? Why didn't better content cost more?" Techdirt's Mike Masnick takes it a step further, suggesting that the content itself should be treated as a resource — one component of many that go into a final product. Masnick also discussed the issue recently with NY Times' columnist David Carr, saying that micropayments won't be the silver bullet the publishers are hoping for because consumers are inundated with free alternatives. "It's putting up a tollbooth on a 50-lane highway where the other 49 lanes have no tollbooth, and there's no specific benefit for paying the toll." Reader newscloud points out that the fall 2009 issue of Harvard's Nieman Reports contains a variety of related essays by journalists, technologists, and researchers.
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