I grew up in the sixties and seventies. In those days, the mantra was “more choice is good!” Choice was linked, you see, to freedom. And back then the word freedom resonated. Really resonated! So we got thirty two flavors or this and twenty eight varieties of that. And we thought we had reached nirvana.
Except we didn’t. We found out later that getting all of that choice did not make us like stuff better. In fact, research showed that the more choices we were offered, the less we wanted to buy at all. We got overloaded and walked away.
Well, something like that is happening on the net. There is no organizing principle on the net and so we can get easily overloaded by the choice of content. The answer - content may continue to be free and flow like water, but we will pay for filters. Things that allow us to make more coherent choices between fewer options.
So we will pay for people to restrict our choices for us? Yup. I was thinking about this yesterday when I read that NYT is tightening up its pay wall. As they do this, they may ask themselves whether they are becoming a better filter. Sadly, I think not. They are still wedded to the idea that they just produce content. Well, everyone does that these days.