Trading information for information.

Newspapers online are increasingly requiring users to register before they can read articles. Many users see this as an invasion of privacy, but I disagree. I value the information these papers provide – both timely news and entertaining editorial content – and will therefore exchange some general demographic information for that value. I’ve written previously about my local newspaper, which charges the same $14.95 for either online, or online and delivered paper. Now that is unreasonable.

This could be an interesting parallel to music downloading. Could we download free music if we provided some demographic information?

Privacy groups have a concern with the newspaper approach, and many people merely provide false information. This seems miniscule compared to the increasing number of companies that want detailed personal information before I can read their literature such as case studies or white papers – things that used to be free, and should still be. After all, they do want to sell me something. In many cases they also insist on validating my email address before they let me see anything, and certainly before I have determined if the information they provide has any value. This is clearly so that they can market to me. Why does nobody make an issue of this practice?