On Wednesday the New York Times outlined a plan to alter the norms of online content distribution in 2011. Perceived inevitability did nothing to limit the resulting debate about the most significant paywall of the internet age. PaidContent.org did a good job of detailing the major issues. The most obvious question (will people pay?) set off a lively Twitter exchange of dueling journalists. Readers of the Times' own Media Decoder blog were split but mostly held to the position that they would not cross the wall.
There was universal respect for the quality of the Times' content and appreciation of the difficulty of its position. Nicholas Carr called it the smartest move that might not work. The web has broken down geographical borders and altered the supply demand equation of newspaper content. The most common paywall comparison made has been the Financial Times system and FT claims that content revenue will beat advertising by 2012.
A large meme has been that the Times is still largely ignoring new opportunities that have replaced the old order of balancing advertiser and reader revenue streams. Jeff Jarvis described the 'cockeyed economics' of penalizing the best customers and requiring an economic decision before an article is read. Search Engine People wondered how the Times would fare in a link economy where blogs and other sources would be reticent about pointing to possibly blocked pages. Stowe Boyd argued that the Times should be working towards revenue from socially endorsed content as opposed to just from more content. One decision that earned praise was that the payment relationship would be directly with the consumer without a platform dependent middleman (an aspect highlighted in an internal memo). Ars Technica went into both the difficulty and the benefit of providing a seamless experience across multiple devices, both stationary and mobile without relying on an iCut.