Why I pay for articles
I love reading! In the early days of the internet, content seemed pure. People wrote because they wanted to write. Content discovery took more work, but you usually knew the incentives behind what was written.
In the world of super aggregators Facebook and Google, larger publishers drown out smaller creators. Pay-per-click advertising models incentivizes content into a barbell distribution, it must either be sensationalist or infuriating. Strongly opinionated content, or pseudo-fact articles make it near impossible to form your own opinions.
I subscribe to the Buddhist philosophy that free will is an illusion. It’s something we tell ourselves that we have, but our thoughts are largely responses to external or unconscious stimuli. So, how is this related to content? I posit that over time reading changes how your brain is wired. In some cases these new connections are things you remember, in others they are unconscious. If you believe that thoughts are an emergent property, it’s not hard to imagine that what you read is what you think. Therefore, I want to read articles from writers who won’t be swayed by external forces, such as over-zealous editors and advertisers.
The internet has zero distribution costs and approachable technology. This is an amazing combination for writers and allows writers to be clearly aligned with their readers. Obviously, discovery is still a bit challenging, but I hope Twitter, Spotify and others will help create more opportunity for creators. I think Medium is trying an interesting approach, I do wonder how it helps people launch their own brands over time, or does all value accrue to Medium?
In any case, some awesome writers that I’m gladly paying for:
- Stratechery, Ben Thompson
- Exponential View, Azeem Azhar
- Epsilon Theory, Ben Hunt
What are your favorites?