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The long-term prospects are good, but I expect a lot of disappointment in the short-term as content companies struggle to make money through advertising or subscriptions.It isn’t working yet, and it may not for some time.Even the very future of certain printed magazines is called into question by the Internet.
Some content companies are experimenting with subscriptions, often with the lure of some free content.
It’s tricky, though, because as soon as an electronic community charges a subscription, the number of people who visit the site drops dramatically, reducing the value proposition to advertisers.
In a sense, the Internet is the multimedia equivalent of the photocopier.
It allows material to be duplicated at low cost, no matter the size of the audience.
Although the gold rush atmosphere today is primarily confined to the United States, I expect it to sweep the world as communications costs come down and a critical mass of localized content becomes available in different countries.
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For the Internet to thrive, content providers must be paid for their work.
Printed scientific journals tend to have small circulations, making them high-priced. It’s been an awkward, slow, expensive way to distribute information to a specialized audience, but there hasn’t been an alternative.
Over time, the breadth of information on the Internet will be enormous, which will make it compelling.
One reason is that many advertisers use big images that take a long time to download across a telephone dial-up connection.
A magazine ad takes up space too, but a reader can flip a printed page rapidly.