Too Long; Couldn’t Tweet: Incognito Mode can (still!) get you around paywalls
Twitter is wonderful. In fact, you should follow Random Nerds on there. However, we find the 140 character limit a bit, well, limiting sometimes when it comes to our ‘Cool thought, but there isn’t a whole article here’ ideas.
Too Long; Couldn’t Tweet is where we share those 141+ character thoughts stuck in limbo between tweet and post.
I had the apartment all to myself this weekend, meaning I was finally able to spend a few dedicated hours laboriously hacking away at the ever-growing “Backlogged Reading” bookmark folder that eternally haunts my Chrome bar.
However, before I knew it, I found myself having completely exhausted the “10 free articles a month” the Times and their IP-tracking sales team bestow upon me each new moon:
According to them, if I really wanted to read that longform profile on Ben Rhodes — “The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama’s Foreign-Policy Guru” — I was going to have to pay up or shut up.
Fortunately, I am, apparently, more digitally savvy than the combined forces of the New York Times’ sales and tech teams…
Because all I, the most amateur of cybersecurity experts, had to do to get around their sad attempt at a paywall was move my cursor a few inches to the top left corner of my screen, where the seemingly innocuous ‘File’ menu housed a command as inconspicuously powerful as that small Asian man from The Matrix with all the keys#:
“New Incognito Window”
Now I realize I’ve already gone Sum 41-levels of too deep# on the moral and psychological intricacies of paywalls and ad-blockers before, so all ethical concerns notwithstanding…
IT IS ABSURD THAT I CAN DO THIS!
Who needs to take a class on Tor when every major browser boasts their own version of Incognito Mode, granting unfettered access to any newspaper’s library of content?
And, more importantly, how is it no one at the New York Times (or the Washington Post, or any of the other outlets that work like this) has figured out the paywall life raft they are convinced will keep them afloat is actually (and quite obviously) full of holes?
It’s not like I’m Mr. Robot over here…
Though it’s times like this I’m reminded it took the New York Times two whole years to figure out all one had to do to best their previous paywall was delete the phrase “?gwh=numbers” from the URL (a trick most users realized within hours of the paywall going live).
One of the reasons I so stubbornly believe Random Nerds’ one-of-a-kind Patronizing model is closer to what the future of the media industry is going to look like is because, naive notions about mankind’s generosity aside, paywall models like the ones currently out there all end up playing different versions of the same, losing game of cat-and-mouse escalation.
To paraphrase a then-Lieutenant James Gordon, “We start carrying semi-automatics, they buy automatics; we start wearing Kevlar, they buy armor piercing rounds…”
They start erecting paywalls, we find a way to get around them.
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