To Paywall or Not to Paywall?

So the New York Times just announced that pretty soon they'll be instituting a sort-of-complicated paywall system for their website content, which will be free if you view twenty or fewer articles per month, and $15/month for "heavy users." Readers who are referred to specific articles via Twitter or certain other social media sites will be able to see them regardless of how many articles they've viewed. All of which makes me go, aww, really? For a few years now my morning routine has been, almost without fail:

1) make espresso
2) blog for while caffeinating
3) eat breakfast while reading on my laptop

To have to pay $180/year for #3 seems excessive, especially considering that an actual honest-to-god paper subscription costs just $120 more. Honestly, at this point I'm so used to reading everything on my laptop that I'm not sure I'd want to deal with paper, which requires lots of folding and unfolding whilst article-skimming and simultaneously pushing eggs and toast around my plate with a fork and knife, and if I'm eating anything with my hands (bagels, toast, orange wedges, etc) then the newspaper ink that inevitably rubs off on my fingers probably wends its way onto my food and, well ... let's just say that when you've gone digital, there's no going back.

So I'm not subbing to the paper version. And just switching to reading the LA Times or CNN online won't do, since they're ... well ... not as good. So I'm not entirely certain what to do, aside from parting with $180/year of my hard-earned filthy lucre. (Though I would consider paying maybe half that just to get rid of all the accursed ads.) The always-astute Cory Doctorow has written eight reasons why the paywall won't work, in which he makes several good points, including A) that there needs to be a way to pay for quality investigative journalism in our Brave New World and B) that this may not be the best way to do it.

So I'm at a loss, and I'd love to know what you all think.

A Very Brief History of Chamber Pots

Some of the oldest chamber pots found by archeologists have been discovered in ancient Greece, but portable toilets have come a long way since then. Whether referred to as "the Jordan" (possibly a reference to the river), "Oliver's Skull" (maybe a nod to Oliver Cromwell's perambulating cranium), or "the Looking Glass" (because doctors would examine urine for diagnosis), they were an essential fact of life in houses and on the road for centuries. In this video from the Wellcome Collection, Visitor Experience Assistant Rob Bidder discusses two 19th century chamber pots in the museum while offering a brief survey of the use of chamber pots in Britain (including why they were particularly useful in wartime).

A Tour of the New York Academy of Medicine's Rare Book Room

The Rare Book Room at the New York Academy of Medicine documents the evolution of our medical knowledge. Its books and artifacts are as bizarre as they are fascinating. Read more here.


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