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Information should be free, and that’s why I can’t hate Google

I’m trying really hard to dislike Google, I really am. I think their position as king of the search has gone to their heads, but try as I might… they just make too much cool stuff for me to hate them.

Case in point: Google Consumer Surveys. The basic idea is that people who want surveys done pay a few cents for every one completed, and Google’s network of advertising partners display the surveys as an access point to premium content. When a user completes a survey, the surveyer gets their information, the partner gets paid, and the user gets free access to what they want to see. It’s brilliant.

Here’s why I like the model so much: I’m constantly torn between two schools of thought that seem to conflict on a fundamental level. On one hand, I believe that information should be free. As a user on the internet, I don’t want to shell out my hard-earned cash for a subscription to read an article that I have little more than a passing interest in.

On the other hand, I agree that content providers should be compensated for their efforts. It seems like an eternal struggle, one which paid advertising has tried to resolve before, but for which I have yet to see a satisfactory solution (be honest… when was the last time you clicked on a banner ad? It has to be working on some level, but I honestly can’t remember the last time I did).

This Consumer Surveys thing is a good step in the right direction. It’s still a minor annoyance to the user (I hate interstitials), but less of an annoyance than having to leave an article unread because I’m unwilling to pay for a subscription.

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