Apparently computer scientist Jaron Lanier has a new book out arguing for a gorvernment-administered system of micropayments for all web content providers. This would include everything from music to news. This raises, in my mind, two questions:
1) Why the government? Lanier argues that private businesses like PayPal lack the resources to set up such a system. That maybe true – I’m no computer scientist – but surely someone can do it. I don’t see why the government needs to be involved.
2) Why micropayments? Honestly, I’ve yet to hear a compelling argument why micropayments make sense for journalism. Are people really going to be more willing to pay for individual articles as opposed to subscribing to a site? It works for music, I’d guess, but music and news are quite different. I’m open to being persuaded otherwise, though.