July 10th, 2014


Interesting Links for 10-07-2014

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Coin locks and supermarket trolleys

BBC article here, talking about Morrisons removing all of the coin locks on their trolleys.

And I have mixed feelings. Because it is a pain having to ensure you have a pound coin with you whenever you go shopping*. And I don't like being treated as if I'm going to steal a trolley.

On the other hand, I do remember when they first came in, and we went from never being able to find a small trolley, to suddenly there being a load of them available at all times...

*Or constantly carrying a thing which is the same shape as one. and also seems to always cost £1.

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livejournal blackout

Solving the newspapers' money problem.

Reading this story about the New Yorker changing its online strategy is puzzling for me.

Because, once again, they're going for a variant of "We'll give you some stuff for free, and then when you're hooked, charge you for full access."

And that's a strategy that seems completely mired in the past. It assumes that a reasonable response to "You've read 9 articles in the last month, so the 10th requires you to sign up/hand over cash." is to do so - because clearly if you read ten articles on the New Yorker you're a budding New Yorker reader, ready to pledge your allegiance and wear the t-shirt.

Whereas my reaction to hitting a paywall is to sigh, and go check who else has the same story. Because I wasn't convinced that _that_ article was going to be great, I just wanted to read about the particular news event, and so long as I'm reading somewhere vaguely reputable* I don't really care who it is that's telling me what happened.

So the time to drop the paywall in front of me is not when I arrive at your site for the first time - it's a quarter of the way through every article. Once I've had a chance to get into it and decide that it's worth reading the rest of it.

And then (and this is the important bit) you have to make it _really_ easy for me to pay you. Not with a micropayment system that's specific to your site - because frankly I've never read the Minnesota Examiner before, and am not likely to again, so I'm not wasting three minutes on the sign-up dance. But with a system that covers hundreds of newspapers, if not thousands of them.**

I want something that essentially asks "Are you a subscriber to the gold-plated read-any-newspaper-you-like system?" - and if so lets you in to read as you like, collects a bunch of stats centrally, and then divides up my $50/month based on what I read where. Or tells me that this article is 5 cents and lets me click ok to carry on, again using a centralised system shared between hundreds of newspapers that I only have to sign up to once.

Because I don't mind paying for news, but I'm not a reader of any single newspaper- I'm a reader of _the media_. And so, frankly, are most online paper readers nowadays. The days of following a single paper of record are, if not dead, then on the way out swiftly***. And if you want to make money off of me directly (rather than through advertising to those people that don't use AdBlock) then that's something the newspapers need to take into account.

So once I'm signed into AllMyNewspapers.Com I never want to see another advert or paywall ever again. If they don't make it that easy, I really can't see it working****.

*By which I mean that they only lie 5% of the time, and I know where their biases are. :->
**I know I'm suggesting a massively centralised system here. I'd rather there were multiple competing ones here, but I suspect that "paying for content" is something that's going to swiftly become a monopoly.
***So far as I can tell the majority of people get their news through people linking to things on social networking sites,emailing them round, and other sharing methods. Some people, obviously, have to go to the site directly in the first place, but I strongly suspect that that's rapidly becoming a minority sport.
****Excepting specialist content. The Financial Times can get away with it. Or The Economist. Or even places like Ars Technica, which I pay for.

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Made of Love

Labyrinths and Lepidoptera: How I spent my day

We went out today to Symonds Yat. Which is, I think we can all agree, an excellent name for anything.

We were visiting the Butterfly Zoo and the Hedge Puzzle, which I think we can all agree is a terrible name for anything, but particular for a maze which was actually great fun (and had me completely lost wandering around it).

The butterflies were great - I love anything which has you wandering around with the animals, rather than separate from them, and having a huge butterfly land on my leg - and then crawl merrily onto Noah's hand, to be paraded around for ten minutes and shown off to anyone who would hold still and listen, was a joy.

We then wandered through the maze, Julie saving me from bumbling blindly in circles, Mike made it through in three minutes flat, and Mum and Noah had to be rescued by Hugh. There was a dome in the middle, to make it easier to find it, and a viewing platform that allowed you to shout helpful instructions to people. Or to take the piss, if they happened to be your loving brother.

Photos - and videos - under the cut!
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