Itemised versus All You Like: A Snowball Diaspora-At-Source

I was preparing for what will probably become my next post, triggered by something I read in the New Scientist. I couldn’t link to the full text of the article, it was hidden behind a Premium Wall. And it made me go off at a tangent, mid-post.

Most journals nowadays provide their print subscribers with free electronic access; some even provide electronic-only access at sharply reduced prices.

Why not let subscribers link to premium articles for free, via their blogs? As long as I have valid access to the pool, let me invite some friends to check out the water, as Seth Godin probably said sometime. Aren’t recommendations the most powerful form of advertising?

Obviously there are good, bad and stupid ways of doing this.

  • Stupid Way: Telling me I can link to ‘n’ articles a year for free as part of my subscription. Trojan Horse route to more pernicious DRM and micromanagement of person and content.
  • Bad Way: Asking me to pay some specified sum per link, small enough to attract me yet large enough to irritate me while I do it.
  • Good Way: Suck Free Powerful Advertising from the Firehose of Recommendation. Let me do it whenever I like. As often as I like.

Which brings me to the point of this post. We have to move from this mindset of Itemised Billing Living. Run from it. And go as close to Eat as Much as You Like Living.

Trade as much as you like. Call as much as you like. Drive as far as you like. That’s what it should be like.

Instead, we’ve been sold this pup of usage-based billing, and what a pup it turned out to be. And we probably pay for it separately, for the pleasure of having itemised billing.

Get that pooper-scooper out. Usage-based tariffs are Trojan Horses that let vendors build baroque billing and administration systems that can then be used to micromanage you out of existence. [You, Sir, spent £5.37 last month on calls that suspiciously look personal…… How do you plead? Puh-lease. Give them Itemised Billing and they go and build an Itemised Billing Analysis Department. Fossilfools.] Usage-based tariffs are neither simple nor convenient.
Instead, we should strive for two purchase models.

As Much as You Like. Either Time-based (per month, per year, whatever) or Capacity-based (fill your trolley, your plate, your bowl or your boots).

One-off. Pay for the transaction. Nothing more.

Let me know what you think

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