I just read about this thing: the Million Dollar Web Page. It seems that this guy made it his business to sell small blocks of screen space on his home page to anyone and everyone, with the stated goal being to achieve a million dollars of advertising income. It would appear that he's actually done it. The little box where you could click to Buy Now is covered with a banner that reads Sold Out.
Evidently, fools and their money are indeed soon parted. But not really, the vast majority of the space is advertising, some of the ads are ridiculously tiny but whoever paid for the space is indeed getting something for their money. Not much, but something. But it was also possible to buy small blocks of space as an individual and just own them. I can't imagine what I'd do with that. You could ring up the website, point to a blank space on the screen and say, "That's mine, right there. That little blank spot with nothing going on. I paid for that."
Is it possible to make money on the Web? Surely so, since there are lots of folks doing it. I'm not. Google is putting ads alongside my blog entries and more power to them, feel free to visit those advertisers if you feel so inclined. If the first buck ever rolls in from all this typing, I'll be very surprised.
I used to make money with a computer. At one time I worked as a production typist. I used my Kaypro II* computer and a similarly low-budget Sears printer. With this unsophisticated but sturdy combination, I was making over $8.00 per hour at a time when the minimum wage was only $3.50 per hour. Not bad. But what people were really paying for was my skill as a typist. I'm not as fast now as I was then but I could really hammer the keys. The Kaypro, when I got it, hadn't been state of the art for several years but even so, you know you're ripping right along when you've been banging the keys full-tilt for a few minutes, stop typing and four more lines of text appear on the screen. That happened to me all the time. I was going as fast as the machine could handle. If I didn't pause, it would start to beep and some of what I entered would get lost.
Machines have gotten faster since then, and I haven't. I haven't filled a keyboard buffer in years. But back in the day, it was pretty cool to see.
More about the Kaypro. It was a hefty machine. It was deemed "portable" by virtue of being equipped with a handle that would support its weight. At 30lbs, the Kaypro may have been the inspiration behind the term "luggable." When I set it into the footwell on the passenger side of my dinky little '78 Civic (an excellent car, and I wouldn't mind having another one), the car visibly settled toward the right.
The Kaypro had two disk drives. This was when floppy disks still lived up to the name of "floppy." The disks were over five inches across, and each one was good for a dizzying 170 pages of text. Your mileage may vary. The top drive held the software for whatever program I was using, and the lower drive was storage for whatever I was working on.
There was no hard drive. The first computer I owned that had a hard drive held ten megabytes of storage, the equivalent of seven floppies. I thought it was fantastic not to have to shuffle disks so often. Now as a matter of course I'm wearing the equivalent of over a hundred of that first hard drive on my keyring. Subaru, mailbox, Library of Congress, Toyota.
Okay, not Library of Congress. But considering how much you can fit into a similar form factor, those dinky little memory sticks, there's room for more than you might read in a couple of years. Storage has become cheap and plentiful. And with the huge hard drives and the plentiful memory sticks, you don't shuffle disks at all. Not even to listen to music.
I kind of miss shuffling disks. It forced you to step back and assess what you were doing. It forced you to give a bit of attention to the mechanics of what you were doing. If I ever make money from this blog - not holding my breath - it'll be because I put all this energy into it. Not like the Million Dollar Website guy, selling off pixels on his home page. I don't mind shuffling the disks to make things happen.
*I used the picture of the Kaypro II that is to be found at http://oldcomputers.net, along with a great variety of other interesting and forgotten machinery. I didn't ask their permission. I hope they aren't mad.