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Is Web a field of dreams?

Clickshare launches a service that may help answer the most burning questions for Web publishers: If you build it, will they come? Once they come, will they pay?

Clickshare today launched a service that may help answer the most burning questions for Web publishers: If you build it, will they come? And perhaps more important, will they pay for it?

Clickshare has a technology that can charge consumers every time they call up information on the Web. Users register their credit cards with Clickshare, log on, and then can pay for news on a "click-as-you-go" basis. Content providers include the Christian Science Monitor; Studio Briefing, an entertainment industry publication; and the American Reporter, a digital daily.

Each time users click on a story of interest, their credit cards are charged incremental fees, typically less than $1.

Privately held Clickshare, founded last year, is one of many companies launching sites to help Web publishers generate income from original content. The Electronic Library is another site that charges users to retrieve articles.

But it's unclear whether people will pay for information on the Web when they can find it in other ways for free, said Mark Loncar, a partner for marketing technologies with CKS Partners.

If they do want to pay, how do you do pricing? "Is it worth a dollar an article, or $50 a month?" Loncar asked. "It depends on how it's retrieved, how fast it's retrieved, and how it's presented."

Plus, he said, "People don't want to read onscreen, and that's a big issue."

Bill Densmore, Clickshare's chairman, summed up his company's strategy this way: "We're the Web's first working micropayment service. Now, publishers can charge for valuable information on the Interent, rather than giving it away."