July 2, 2003

McCloud’s Micropayments are Here

by Nick Montfort · , 10:50 am

… and where am I? Yes, Scott McCloud has completed a “mature” new comic called The Right Number, and placed a smidgen of it online for free. The rest can be bought for $0.25 (after you buy a $3 debit card.) It’s a interesting-looking piece which I’ll read as soon as I run out of free things on the Web to read.

I do appreciate McCloud putting his mouth where my money is; as an advocate of micropayments, who sees such a system as important for supporting independent creative types, he’s doing well to attempt to get this process going. Coming from micro-cost comic culture, the system does seem to make sense in some ways. But like Noah, I’m not going to get behind such a system until there are ways to provide free public access, the sort of access that libraries now provide for our antiquated book medium.

Seeing this system though book-colored or comics-colored lenses makes it look rather different, I suppose, but imposing a micropayment system at this point isn’t creating a new comics-like nook; it’s putting barriers into a system that is currently free, like a library. I also like to re-read or re-play the literary and artistic works I find online, sharing them with friends – no chance to do that, in this case. And, honestly, although I like Scott McCloud’s work a lot, I’m just too busy experiencing the wealth of wonderful, free creative work in Flash …

(Just as I’m going to press with this, I get a micropayments article link from Amy Bruckman via a list. It explains is some detail why, contrary to the predictions of Jakob Neilsen and Nicholas Negroponte, micropayments are doomed because of the way they irk us and disrupt the way we’re used to freely clicking and reading. The piece is written by a top thinker on many matters digital, Clay Shirky, who has himself long been publishing freely-available work on the Web.)