Re: Request for Input/Suggestions

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Tue, 23 Sep 1997 12:02:00 -0700 (PDT)

> ...Is it time for an Exline? I think this would be
> a "peer-reviewed" online journal of articles, research, and
> debate on futurist topics. The part most useful to me is that
> in order to be eligible for inclusion in such a journal, writers
> would be required to supply abstracts for their material that
> could be searched and read by busy individuals such as myself.
> What I haven't figured out is why someone would run such a
> thing, and why people would consent to review writings -- how
> would they get paid? Presumably if the reviewers are of high
> enough reputation, writers will do the abstracts just so they
> can submit the papers for review (hm -- this might also result
> in some more well-thought-out writings). Somehow it seems that
> subscriptions wouldn't work, because there's so much information
> available for free. Maybe a time-delay subscription, where
> people who pay get more articles?
> Darn it, what would *you* pay for?

There are three services here: content, abstracts, commentary.
Any business model not based on the "content is free" model is
doomed to failure, so you have to get paid for the ongoing service
of providing abstracts and commentary. The writers are paid a
one-time fee for the content, plus a commission on future sales
of commentary on their article. Articles are put into a search
engine that users browse. It brings up the title and one-line
description of each article that hits the search, and has links
to (a) the full content, for free, (b) brief abstracts/summaries
written by the journal's editors or other writers, each of which
has eir own point of view/style, and (c) recently-written
commentary on the article by the journal editors or other writers.
(b) and (c) are constantly updated, and are charged for, but the
customer is buying their novelty, their trust in a writer, their
ability to explain complex work, etc.; They're not buying content
by itself, they're buying the service of making the content easier
to find, organize, and understand.

Another thing you can sell is access/interaction: for $5, ask the
writer a question to which you are promised either a useful
response or your $5 back. Of course, each question and its
answer becomes a new commentary product for you to sell.

It is important that the full-blown content be there--you can't
/only/ sell commentary. It might work, but if the service works,
your custmers will become more expert in the fields they research
(that's what they're paying you for), and will want the gory
details of everything, and will probably change their searching
habits (perhaps they begin by reading reviews by someone who is good
at simplifying things for beginners, then progress into reading
commentary by intermediate-level writers, then finally to reading
critical analysis by other authors in the field.

The hard part will be extricating the minds of authors from chronic
paper-think that infests the publishing world. Convincing them that
giving their material away will make them twice as rich as hording
it, especially if they dabble in reviewing each other.

Lee Daniel Crocker <> <>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC