By mgieva • May 30, 2009

Pay for information? No way.

"Information is not air," I remember reading in an article for my New Media class this semester. I stopped reading in surprise. "What do you mean it is not air?" I thought.

Then I realized that with the abundance of free information online I tend to think of it as air. In addition to my most visited web pages, I am actively using bookmarks, RSS feeds and Google alerts to keep up with latest news and emerging trends. Information on the Web is free and necessary. It is exactly like air.

Yet some sources limit that air. A couple of days ago I found a Wallstreet Journal headline featured in my Google Alerts. The link redirected me to the WSJ page and I saw the story's lead. But to read on, I had to subscribe.

Some reliable Web sources like the WSJ and Encyclopedia Britannica require paid subscription. When I encounter such a challenge, I just close the page and look for the same information elsewhere. The chances are that I will find it on the NY Times or Wikipedia.

Information is not air because one has to be selective when choosing sources. But the choice becomes easy when one of two competing sources is free and the other one paid. So despite your high-quality content, WSJ, I guess I will have to pass.