The New York Times has just announced plans to charge for access to its online news paper. I have been thinking about a local DSR like service to provide paid casual metered access to online sites for those who want occasional access to each of many sites. I will call the metering service eTill here. eTill has financial arrangements with two sorts of entity:
who want access to a wide variety of sources,
that need some payment for providing online services.
The sources may have advertising as a principle revenue stream and perhaps individual subscriptions as well, and yet gain additional revenue by providing the same material under different terms via eTill. Some clients will use hardware where bandwidth is expensive or slow. Waiting for ads to be transmitted before seeing the material which brought you to the site is becoming an increasing annoyance.


A client would have some non-negative balance with eTill. Perhaps eTill is configured as a web proxy, but in any case the client accesses the source via the eTill system. eTill collects a fee from the balance of the client and deposits it in a positive balance for the source. The amount is set by the source. Often the transaction is determined merely by an URL that would provide the desired information from the Sources normal site. That URL is delivered to eTill which then delivers the transformed material to the client stripped of ads by eTill, as agreed to in advance between eTill and the source, or sometimes delivering a cached stripped value defined on the URL. The source may choose to do the stripping whence eTill merely collects a toll. Note that there is no need to keep records of who accesses what. In the cached case a time stamped record is kept that some source item was delivered and this record can be used by eTill to convince the source that all due tolls have been collected.


The client may be low bandwidth cell phone that can display 200 characters at a time. eTill learns this by virtue of its arrangement with the client. It can parcel out the desired text in a manner suitable for the client device. Tymnet delivered much value by transforming host material to diverse ASCII terminals by knowing the quirks of those terminals.