BlogOn Webcast, Registration Culture Clash

The J-School is co-sponsoring an event this Friday on the business and commercial aspects of social software, and of blogging in particular. Lots of great speakers, but the theme basically boils down to the question of how to monetize the blogging phenomenon. The event’s main site is here, and I’ll be webcasting it live.

Something about this whole thing feels uncomfortable to me — isn’t the non-commercial aspect of blogging part of what makes it so powerful? That we’re able to sidestep The Man and forge our own editorial and distribution mechanisms? Monetization of the blogosphere serves the monetizers — how can it possibly serve bloggers? But what really got me steamed was the fact that the conference organizers asked me to force users who wanted to view the webcast to fill out a form and register with them first. I’m pretty accommodating, but I threw down the gauntlet on this one — I believe strongly that forced registration is an annoyance, and offers no benefit to viewers (I have no problem with voluntary registration, of course).

We’re an academic institution, and part of a culture of free information – why should I toss a bone to corporate organizers and drive away potential viewers in the process? The organizers felt that their viewers wouldn’t mind at all — surely they’re only thinking of the same sorts of viewers who are paying up to $550 to attend in person. In contrast, I believe that the 99% of viewers who watch the webcast in perpetuity will be “ordinary people,” and that ordinary people pretty much agree that We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Login. Culture clash.

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5 Replies to “BlogOn Webcast, Registration Culture Clash”

  1. as long as they have a privacy policy in place (and seem reputable enough for such policy to be believable) and an opt-out box for mailings, it doesn’t bother me *too* much. it’s really the UE that bothers me – having to take hte extra 30 seconds to do it just to read an article that someone’s linked to or such, let alone having to remember login info for any future visits.

    here’s an idea: lets start a trend where instead of having logins, you just have interstitials to get to articles that ask for an anopnymous piece of demo info. eg: “to read the article, please select your age group (or income range, or gender….) from below and press submit.” could satisfy the monetizers, simplify the UE by avoiding superfluous login mechanisms and retain a bit more anonymity.

  2. TO VIEW THIS COMMENT, PLEASE REGISTER WITH BIRDHOUSE.ORG. REGISTRATION IS FREE, AND YOUR E-MAIL ADDRESS WILL BE SOLD TO OFFSET ORTHODONTIA COSTS!

  3. baald, I totally agree. In fact I think I saw something similar to that a bit ago… but where? Can’t remember. Makes so much sense, although I think most PR people are pretty bent on gathering personal data when they can; they’d have to cool their heels and be willing to sacrifice that in exchange for giving the user a better experience.

  4. Are you less likely to view web content that requires registration,

    Yes.

    even if it’s free?

    TANSTAAFL.

    Baald wrote: as long as they have a privacy policy in place

    The trouble is, “privacy” policies are subject to change without notice and without redress; the expression “dirty piece of paper” springs to mind.

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