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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 02-Jul-17


Sunday 25-June-17

How do you pay for your life? The shift to loans, information, donations and subscriptions

How do you pay for things in your life? The old model was a simple transaction. You went to the store and paid money for your food. This still works. But more models have appeared and still appearing and shifting dominance.

You may also have loans. If you have a house then you probably had to borrow money to buy it. Maybe the same for your car. Perhaps you are a victim of short-term, high-interest loan sharks, these days sometimes legitimized with the name of 'Payday loans'. Increasingly, we are paying for today with our futures.

Young people in particular are affected who realize that they may never be able to retire and who do not have the secure pension safety net of their parents. This is perhaps something that is driving the hedonistic 'experience economy' where the young live for today and ignore the cost of the future. Older folks are not escaping either, with a combination of the enhanced 'Bank of Mom and Dad' and the cruise culture draining those of us who are torn between helping their children and spending something of their final years seeing the world after so long at the coalface.

Payment gets even more interesting when it moves online. How do you pay for your online consumption? Facebook and Google take payment in information about you, which they use to micro-segment and sell you things in remarkably persuasive ways based on a deep analysis of your character.

Websites also, are feeling the pinch. The heady days of the early internet where everything was free are sharply narrowing. One way they are coping is by asking for donations. Adverts on many websites, including this one, help pay for the site. However, ad-block software will stop these. But I can detect this, so put a 'please donate' request up when ads are not allowed. And some kind people have donated (thanks!!). Donations are also being sought in a kind of 'telethon' style, such as the big requests that Wikipedia put out from time to time, with a persuasive 'personal appeal' from founder Jimmy Wales.

Other places are moving to flat subscriptions where you can avoid large up-front payments but have to pay on a regular basis. Adobe now do this, as does Microsoft in Office 365. Variations this appear in other areas, such as the 'freemium' service, where the basic product is free and desirable premium extras cost you. An example of this is in podcasts where I recently listened to Sam Harris pontificating about this.

Look out for the web payment model to continue to change. The principle of Net Neutrality is being challenged again. Websites are looking more and more to monetization. They are getting less generous and more cynical, which I have seen in the decline of guest articles. I do get offered thinly-veiled and content-weak advertising articles, but I turn these down on a daily basis.

So what will I do at Changing Minds? How will access to the site change in the future? I have no great plans to change it. I am retired, and should have about 20 years or so of writing left in me. I've a modest pension and income from adverts and books are very welcome. I started the site on a premise of making it all free, so I've no plans for subscriptions. I may experiment with advertising, but do not want to over-do this. I may extend the donation model, but I won't be over-pleading as I know that too much guilt-induction makes people give up and go away. I also don't use information about people, as again I realize that privacy is a critical personal issue. Also don't worry about the site continuing: my daughter also has a M.Sc. in Psychology and will likely pick up the site when I'm pushing up daisies.


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