Douglas Helmer ( publisher of www.combatsim.com) wrote an editorial in early 2001 which referred to THIS ARTICLE by Jakob Nielsen: www.useit.com/alertbox/20001224.phpl : >> 2010 update - web page gone << at http://www.useit.com - which summed up the changing state of the internet since it's inception in 1993:
"Offering free services on websites is not a sustainable business model, nor is advertising, which doesn't work on the Web. Most Internet companies are now pursuing an enterprise strategy to make money, but they'll soon begin turning to individual customers for revenue as well."
From 1991 to 1993, the Web was dominated by academic content....
From 1994 to 1996, the Web was mainly promotional...
Since 1997, however, the Web has gradually evolved into a true economy -
It offers both real services and real content
Read the whole article www.useit.com/alertbox/20001224.phpl : >> 2010 update - web page gone <<
My thoughts on the subject at the time:
Why did it cost money to read?
A web site is a publishing venture. It offers economies over the 19th century models in that it doesn't require printing and distribution of paper.
However, does this mean there is no cost in e-publishing?
Not so - there are significant technical, service and labour costs incurred.
Like print publishing, e-publishing may be a small scale effort or large scale effort.
It may be specialist or generalist in focus.
Each publication will have different standards of presentation and editorial.