Your Internet Consultant - The FAQs of Life Online

1.4. But access to the Internet's resources are free, right?

That is correct. Those of us who do pay for our Internet access generally pay based on how much time we're online, not by what we do. If your service provider charges $1 an hour, it doesn't matter if you're searching an agriculture database or playing games, because the vast majority of the Internet's resources are free.

The Internet resources are never quite "free" when you consider the amount of time and money invested in making them work. The computers, network equipment, software, and maintenance are paid for by governments, businesses, and personal time and money. However, many resources are accessible without charge, regardless of these expenses. This may come as a surprise to some. There ain't no such thing as a free lunch, right? Why would anyone give away the products of their efforts?

Well, everyone seems to have their own reasons. Academic institutions often make their resources available because it is their purpose to disseminate knowledge. Businesses often offer free services to promote their reputations. "Regular people" donate their time for a variety of reasons--to boost their ego, to give something back to a community they find useful, or simply to do good for the public network.

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