New York Times Paywall Workaround Springs Up Already

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It hasn't even been 12 hours since the New York Times announced they're implementing a fairly complex paywall scheme, and already at least one workaround has sprung up.

The Times scheme allows readers 20 free stories per month before they have to pay. However, if you come in via Twitter or Facebook, reading the story doesn't count against your total.

So, cheapskates, meet @freenyt, a three-hour old Twitter feed that intends to tweet all the Times stories.

"The New York Times paywall begins March 28 http://nyti.ms/eIJC8z. But you can access articles for free if they're posted to Twitter..." messages posted to the account read. "Can you guess where they'll be posted? 'Information wants to be free' - Stewart Brand."

File this under The Files Will Get Out. And one figures the Times knows that efforts like @freenyt and others will inevitably circumvent the fence. So the real question may be, as Rolling Stone's Tim Dickinson tweeted, whether the paywall can serve as a guilt/annoyance prod for the Times' loyal readers, much like NPR pledge drives do.

Maybe we can even think of the Times paywall as akin to old-school shareware that didn't force you to upgrade but just hit you with a nag screen (a nagwall?).

(Quibble: Out of respect for Brand, it should be noted that his full assertion is much more nuanced than this truncation would suggest.)

Update 4:59pm: @freenyt has deleted the initial tweets quoted above.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com, where he also oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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