Much as I enjoy writing this weblog, the question keeps coming up: “So, you making any money at this?” Well, no, and that’s not the point. But even if I wanted to, I don’t think the plumbing of the weblog universe would let me.
So, why not?
Many of you know that there is a growing class of weblogs that speak to each other through “news aggregators;” the one you’re reading right now is one of them. When I post an item here, some unknown number of other weblog authors read that item on a customized web page, from which they can post the item on their own weblog. It makes for a very fast and efficient way of disseminating news and opinion.
This strikes me — in theory, at least — as an excellent way for professional news gatherers to distribute information to paying clients. I know a ton of un- and semi-employed journos all over the world, and it would be an interesting exercise to get them filing real news for pay.
Here’s what would be required to make that work:
- a multiuser weblog that
- allows for content categorization and
- which generates material for a news aggregator that
- can be kept out of the public eye.
An electronic commerce addition might be interesting too, so that sites could subscribe on a monthly or annual basis, or that casual readers could see an abstract and pay on a per-story basis. Given the prior lack of success for micropayments, I wouldn’t expect anyone to rush to develop that last one. There are other ways outside the weblog mechanism to handle subscriptions, so this might be a blind alley.
But those first four points are a must. And while the most advanced weblog plumbing that I know of — Radio Userland, which I use for this weblog — can handle the first three, I know of no way to keep an aggregator restricted to only people who are authorized to see it.
(Tracking infringers down, of course, is a simple matter of using Google or Daypop. Can’t run, can’t hide in a digital world.)
So all you wizards: can this be done? Is next week too soon?