In today's NY Times there is an article about Google starting to sell ads that are not related to their search business. The discussion is that Google (and Yahoo too) provide a brokering service between publishers (like the NY Times) and advertisers of content, because they have a good online auction model for the pricing of the advertising. But now Google is going to let in ads that are from high bidding advertisers, even if the content is not otherwise relevant to the readers - and ad for car mufflers on a page with an article about interior decorating. And the thought is this non-context sensitive advertising may become more and more of Google's core business. So what does that do for us schlubs who think of Google as a search enginge. Will they either further intrude into that space or so degrade it as to kill the goose?
On a different front, yesterday I realized that the Times has stopped allowing online readers to email full text of their articles and instead now allows email of the link only. This is what the Chronicle does. Of course the Chronicle charges for its subscription and doesn't rely on advertising to support it. The Times is free online, supported by the ad revenue. Are they too going to continually degrade the service in the quest for revenue. I already think they've degraded the quality of the writing to claim more eyeballs.
Perhaps the trick in all of this is to stay light and agile and always play what is hot out there. The thing is, we who support IT talk about scalability and sensible business models. It sure would be nice if there were something that continued to make sense a few years out. I really liked putting the emails of the Times articles up in my course site for my students, perhaps several months after they appeared. Now I'll have to see if Lexis-Nexis has them or some othe database, and I'll lose the ability to promote to the students that they should read the paper themselves. Or I could make PDFs of the articles, and probably violate fair use. Aarghh.