UnNews:Jimbo Wales hopes to cash in on micro-commerce
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5 September 2010
WIKIA CITY, California -- How many times have you dreamed, "If I just had a penny for every time someone laughed at that great Uncyclopedia article I wrote on Emo-Hitler"? Well, it turns out that Wikipedia founder Jimbo Wales also hopes to get a penny for every time someone laughs at it.
Mobile Internet, smart phones, and other gadgets might give newspapers what they've been searching for: a new way to silently nickel-and-dime Internet users. Wales made his comments to a gathering of business and political leaders in Italy.
"I look at hotels in America. The telephone, soft porn on the TV, and finally the Mini-bar: They have you thinking you're spending a luxurious night in the 'hospitality' industry, when in fact they've stuck you in a room full of vending machines."
Wales went on to describe the new U.S. health care law, under which the IRS fines you for not buying fancy enough insurance, the wet dream in Massachusetts for cameras to track you everywhere you drive and send you a bill for the correct tolls, and the hope of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos for servers that guess your next impulse purchase before you think of it.
"Put these ideas together: The consumer can do anything he likes, take any risk, follow any whim. And we'll simply mail him a letter at the end of the month telling him whether he has any money left."
In Wales's model, your iPad, phone, and even your wristwatch become vending machines. "The micropayment model lets a tiny bit of money flow from consumer to producer--and a tiny bit of that flow to me--on every notion anyone has at any time of the day."
So far, micropayments haven't taken off. Wales says users need simplicity. "You're not going to whip out a credit card," he said. "But to nick you on every click would be a gravy train." Agreements to pay could be hidden in the legalese during software installation, which no one ever reads.
Asked if he was going to read for-pay content at poolside after the meeting, Wales scoffed. "Are you kidding? I brought a newspaper--the free copy from the hotel lobby."
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- Alessandra Rizzo and Dan Perry "AP Interview: Wikipedia founder bullish on news." Associated Press, September 3, 2010