Friday Fun Link – Web Services Worth Paying For?

The nature of the Internet is changing and developing constantly and one of the most significant evolutions is the nature of commerce online.

Now, there’s always been commerce online and most definitely since the web entered the popular consciousness in the mid to late 1990’s.  I remember buying a book from Amazon somewhere around 1997 just to try out what was then, a pretty radical new service. So the development of e-commerce, in all its forms, from Amazon to Ebay to Paypal is one aspect of what I’m thinking about.

But there’s also the changing nature of how people relate to the Internet.  I think we’ve reached a point where a lot of the earliest Internet users, steeped in a mentality of “free” have begun to acknowledge that maybe not every single thing online is going to be free (well, unless it’s something offered by Google!)

Those are a couple of the thoughts that popped into my head when I came across an AskMetaFilter thread asking it’s very tech-savvy community “What web services are worth paying for?”  To me, some of these answers are sort of like someone who believes in free music and “information wants to be free” still choosing to buy the albums of their favourite independent artists rather than downloading them for free.

Here are the sites and online services I support financially…

  • JustHost.com – host for my current WordPress blog
  • NetIdentity – provider for my specialized e-mail address (jason@hammond.net) and also hosting for my old blog (though this is included in the fee for my e-mail as a legacy service)
  • iTunes – I buy apps for my iPhone – probably about $50 worth over the past year.  I also buy the odd song or album – even ones I could probably get for free with a bit of effort.  (Note: Making it very easy to to find and download music is the solution to piracy in many ways.)
  • NetFlix – we’re on the one-month trial right now but will likely keep it and have just last night canceled all but a couple channels on our satellite system.  Made me realise that cable TV may be going the way of the CD in this new digital universe.
  • Carbonite – I have a subscription to Carbonite to provide a cloud-based backup solution to my local back-up solution.
  • Wikipedia – I’m on record as saying that Wikipedia and Youtube (not Google, not Facebook) are the two sites I could not live without.  So I decided to put my money where my mouth is this year, not only making a donation during Jimmy Wales’ annual end-of-year fundraising campaign but signing on for a small monthly donation as well.  (I’d encourage you to do the same – what’s $5 or $10/month for one of the greatest information collections in human history?)
  • Reddit – this year, Reddit implemented a freemium model for members who wished to pay a small fee to receive additional services.  I donated in the first go-round and will likely become a dues-paying member next year when my initial contribution expires.
  • Amazon.com – I make the occasional purchase from Amazon and a variety of other online sites ranging from WestJet to Dominos pizza.
  • Groupon – has recently come to Regina and Shea and I made our first (and so far only) purchase to buy a groupon for a swanky local restaurant for ourselves as well as a couple to give as gifts.
  • Flickr – Shea has a Flickr account but it hasn’t been updated since last spring.  It’s on the To Do list though – honest!
  • LibraryThing – $25 for a lifetime account can’t be beat!

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