An International Weekly - Sample Issue: Jan 1 - Jan 30, 1997
Marble News & Policy
Welcome to Marble, a weekly cyber-magazine of political analysis and social commentary. Each week an "issue news and policy update" will provide brief news about Marble and particularly any changes in policy. We will add new information to prior information, in an accumulating record, deleting earliar commentary only as it becomes totally out of date. In contrast, the Contents and other entries -- in the masthead link -- will introduce the articles and other content of the current issue and list current writers to help readers navigate. Archives of past articles, forums, etc. will also be available from links within the magazine proper.
Marble News & Policy (second installment: Jan 1 - Jan 30 1997)
Marble's inauguration is intimately connected with the progress of ShareWorld. As a result, first issues are still months off. But progress is being made on many fronts having to do with promotion, audience, etc. The basic conception and policies, however, are, for now, unchanged from the description below.
Marble News & Policy (first installment: basic definitions and policy...)
Marble arose from innovative energies at the ZNet website, the ShareWorld online Project, and the folks responsible for Z Magazine. Indeed, we hope interest in Marble will stimulate interest in these other projects. As to the name...when the idea for this project first surfaced we did a lot of mental contrasting to Slate, the Microsoft magazine project. We thought why not trump the name. Thus...Marble.
Why a fee to get Marble?
Temporarily, as you know, Marble is free. And Marble will remain free for many weeks into the future. But in 1997 it will cost money to access Marble. It may be $15 a year -- we don't know yet since we are only now learning costs and how many folks will be interested. But why charge at all, many will ask? And this is an important question.
Within the economic world we inhabit, the world of private ownership and markets, the world called capitalism, everything economic has bills paid by someone. What bills are there to pay with a web site? Well, there are connection charges, there is equipment, and there is a the considerable time and work associated with maintaining the sites, with updating the content, and, in cases like Marble, with creating the content.
When you traverse web sites that charge nothing it may be that the sponsor is shouldering all the costs or that they are shouldering technical costs and writers and artists are shouldering the costs for creating content). Or it could be that the unsightly and obnoxious ads you try to avoid are paying the bill. We don't have either of these options. Neither we nor our writers and artists have the independent resources to finance Marble without generating revenues from its readers. And we neither could nor would want to have Marble ad-driven.
So, why no ads?
First, few businesses would want to advertize at a site like Marble. But far more important, we do not want to be in the business of selling you, our readers, to Microsoft or IBM or Volvo, or whoever else. That is what being ad-driven means. The product becomes the person accessing the site and the consumer whose agenda constrains content becomes the advertiser. The reader of an ad-driven site needs to be in the mood to buy, not in a critical and self-conscious mood, much less aroused to political and social awareness. The implications for content of being ad-driven are contrary to our purpose.
So, we have to get funds from you, the folks who use the site, directly. Let's be clear here. You pay, one way or the other. Either you react positively to ads, buy products advertised, and then a part of that expenditure comes back to the web site from the advertiser, in the ad-driven case theat we reject--or you pay directly to the web site itself, for what it offers you, in the content driven case that we have adopted.
How much will we charge?
Let's not mince words about this. We are not going to figure out the absolute minimum amount we can possibly charge. Marble is a progressive political project. Its reason for being is to contribute to social change. It is capable, we hope, of generating revenues. Many progressive projects are not able to do that. So, Marble becomes a way to generate funds not only for itself, but for work that its writers and authors do and support, and for work the sponsoring staff supports, such as the many projects you will find described at the ZNet site. Thus, we will charge a rate that seems commensurate to the interest folks have, to the costs we have, and to the needs that projects we support have.
As our finances become clear, we will publish details in this section of the magazine.
For now, however, enjoy the mag...and please, let us know your suggestions as you develop views about what Marble should offer, how it should operate, and so on. You can do that by EMail, or even better in the public forum about Marble Policy, each indicated in the Table of Contents offerings.