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[P]
An Information Economy

By inspire in News
Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 02:19:06 PM EST
Tags: Round Table (all tags)
Round Table

Many people used to (and still do) believe that the next big step for the Web was to introduce micro-payment systems. This meant that someone could charge small amounts of money (on the scale of a few cents) per page view of some information.

Micropayments have been proposed ever since the introduction of the World Wide Web, being seen as a natural and logical next step into the information age. Many have also proposed micropayment as a solution to the MP3/music piracy quandry, by charging several dollars per song downloaded.

Read more...


The Internet has largely moved from the "share what resources you have" model to a more commercial model, where sites (including kuro5hin) have to attract revenue to remain viable.

With this in mind, several years back I proposed an information economy - where instead of subscription schemes which have been trialed and mostly failed (see Salon and other online newspapers who have now become free) and advertising based models (which have been discussed at length on kuro5hin before), the trade good is information.

Producers of information (web pages, bands who produce MP3s, etc) can put up their pages on a pay-to-view basis, where the payment would be in some sort of information currency, and consumers of information would have to 'earn' this currency by either producing their own information, or any other profitable means for the producers (banner ads, referral programs and the like come to mind).

What needs major work is the information currency<->real currency methods. For the information to be truly worth anything, there must be some 'real-worth' to the information dollars. If there was a large-scale legitimisation of such a scheme though, then online retailers could accept information currency in lieu of real dollars. Something like this would also be a world wide currecy also, without having to worry about conversion rates and such.

What I dislike (and see as a fatal flaw) in this sort of scheme is that the Internet ethos, despite strong commercial forces, has remained (relatively) free. The net brings out the altruistic in people (see Free Software as an example), and information that is potentially highly profitable has remained public-access and free on the net. However there is a strong push for at least cost recovery on the net, as evidenced by the proliferation of banner ads and referral schemes. However as people begin to wise up to the ineffectiveness of banner advertising, there must be some new scheme to replace them.

What this scheme is, though, is up to us.

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An Information Economy | 41 comments (41 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
Interesting idea...good rhetorical ... (4.00 / 1) (#3)
by driph on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 07:56:04 AM EST

Driph voted 1 on this story.

Interesting idea...good rhetorical discussion..:]

How would the information poor or the young get their initial information with which to trade? What if I had a load of information, but it was the same information you had? Could we both trade our information to the same buyer?

This part of my comment should probably be in another comment, but hell. I am damn proud of this community. You guys rock. Where one would probably expect brick throwing and cursing in the streets when a site like Kuro5hin reveals that commercial intentions are about, especially when the audience is built from, guessing here mind you, a large percentage of un-corporate-loving folk such as ourselves. But no, not only does everyone support Rusty's move, we're working on our own ideas and proposals for the site, and submitting them in articles and comments. I love that for a couple a' reasons...
1) Rusty has built a community that feels and knows it plays a part in the direction of the site. We're all not just consumers, we're participants, and
2) While I might not agree with all the proposals made, I've gotta say they've all been at least thought out and pondered upon.
So hey, let's all bring out our #ffffff and #006699 party hats, have a beer, and say, "Yeah, K5 does rock."

Heh. So when's the convention, Rusty?

--
Vegas isn't a liberal stronghold. It's the place where the rich and powerful gamble away their company's pension fund and strangle call girls in their hotel rooms. - Psycho Dave

Re: Interesting idea...good rhetorical ... (3.00 / 1) (#17)
by inspire on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 02:33:37 PM EST

Small gripe: 'rhetorical' means (roughly) 'for dramatic effect whilst talking', as in a rhetorical question (that isn't supposed to be explicitly answered).

Information rich and information poor is a hard concept to get around - virtual currency is not going to solve the problem of wealth distribution or anything, in fact it may make it worse. Perhaps people could provide a way to 'earn' the information currency - the ideal situation would be that virtual and 'real' currency are worth as much as each other, and there was a way to convert between the two.

Same applies with two people selling the same commodity as with real life. Buyer gets to choose who they buy from in terms of price, reliability, etc.

And yes, the community does rock.
--
What is the helix?
[ Parent ]

Re: Interesting idea...good rhetorical ... (3.00 / 1) (#24)
by fluffy grue on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 03:53:32 PM EST

Actually, I personally am opposed to the commercialization of K5, but I'd rather let my opposing ideas ferment before I foam at the mouth. :) After a few days of silent contemplation, I've decided that overall, it's not really that big of a deal. So Rusty won't be paying out-of-pocket for K5, and he'll be able to use any profits on building new content sites. Just as long as he doesn't turn into Andover (or turn to them, for that matter) it's fine. :)

FWIW, one of the main reasons I stopped going to Slashdot (aside from the bad attitude there) is because I didn't want Andover to get more money with every single ad impression. It wouldn't surprise me that they charge based on HTML insertions rather than images served, either, which means they get paid even if you use lynx or w3m or what have you. That's a complete WAG, of course, but I"d rather not take any chances. ;)
--
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

What if Andover didn't, umm, suck? (5.00 / 1) (#25)
by rusty on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 05:47:07 PM EST

Would you be opposed to a network of content sites that was not the "holdings" of one random company, but was more like a co-op of small sites? Think about this: the infrastructure required for running a discussion site is very small. What if several got together and shared back-office staff, like ad sellers, and bookkeepers, and technical staff (to maintain a common server pool and whatnot)? One company could easily run a bunch of news and discussion sites, sharing expenses and profits, and making it easier for small sites, probably run by an individual, to become profitable and allow their creator to run the site full time. Perhaps profits could be distributed to member sites based on traffic. Would this be too Andover-y, in your opinion, or a good idea?

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Re: What if Andover didn't, umm, suck? (4.00 / 1) (#27)
by fluffy grue on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 06:05:46 PM EST

Hey, I like that idea. Doesn't sound Andover-y at all, either, since to me, Andover is about hyping up "underground" sites and giving them insanely-huge valuations under the guise of supporting free software. And then I could finally run my open recipe site in a comfortable way. :)
--
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

Re: What if Andover didn't, umm, suck? (4.00 / 1) (#30)
by Imperator on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 06:44:40 PM EST

While you're making it easy, why not actively invite proposals for new sites? They would not need to be restricted to technical audiences, because they would not need day-to-day management from technical people. (One sysadmin would be enough for quite a few sites.) The company could make quite a bit from advertising. However, advertising has limited value: the only people making money off the web are selling products or services on it.

[ Parent ]
Re: What if Andover didn't, umm, suck? (4.00 / 1) (#31)
by rusty on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 08:04:15 PM EST

...the only people making money off the web are selling products or services on it.

That's actually only true when you're dealing with companies that want to scale up huge and "dominate their market sector" and blah blah blah. An individual running a news/discussion site like this one could do very well on advertising alone. It takes some specialized skills to do the tech stuff, but basically, something like K5 can run for quite a while on a very small staff. I recently got an email from the owner of a similar site to this one, that has been around for about 15 months longer, who is making a *very* comfortable income on about 10 hours of work a week. (And no, it's not Malda. ;-))

The reason no one thinks advertising on the web can work is because so many sites are following the "Salon Recipe for Failure" -- i.e. try to translate an old-media magazine online, and pay out the ass for content. That won't work, but providing a meeting place for people to share their thoughts can live on banner ads alone, in my experience.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Re: What if Andover didn't, umm, suck? (3.00 / 1) (#33)
by Imperator on Sun Jun 11, 2000 at 12:06:31 AM EST

I personally expect advertising rates to drop dramatically when marketers catch on to the low success rates. Maybe not. In any case, good luck!

[ Parent ]
Re: What if Andover didn't, umm, suck? (4.00 / 1) (#34)
by rusty on Sun Jun 11, 2000 at 01:18:13 AM EST

The question is, how are they measuring "success rate"? If it's only through click-through, they're just foolish. How good are the click-through rates of a billboard? A magazine ad? I personally think that web ads are actually more effective than most people give them credit for, in spreading the word about a product, and "building the brand". It's when advertisiers start expecting them to be magical money trees that they get disappointed.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Re: What if Andover didn't, umm, suck? (4.00 / 1) (#35)
by bobsquatch on Sun Jun 11, 2000 at 05:34:33 AM EST

One company could easily run a bunch of news and discussion sites, sharing expenses and profits, and making it easier for small sites, probably run by an individual, to become profitable and allow their creator to run the site full time.

Depends on how much control the co-op has over an individual site. Will there be pressure for each site to rake in its share of the cash (i.e. grow page views and community size without bound, like TOS)? Will there be any editorial control by the co-op? What happens when one member's site posts a story critical of another member?

As long as the individual site owner remains in control of his/her content, the idea sounds good. If the co-op starts meddling, well-intentioned or not, well, something's burning...

[ Parent ]

Re: Interesting idea...good rhetorical ... (none / 0) (#26)
by rusty on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 05:56:46 PM EST

Heh. Thank you. :-)

1) Rusty has built a community that feels and knows it plays a part in the direction of the site. We're all not just consumers, we're participants

Actually, you're not just consumers and participants, you are the producers of the site. Think about it-- my role here is basically chief cheerleader, and technical manager. Occasionally I write stuff, but that's on the same terms as anyone else. I comment, but again, my comments have no special status, I'm just another contributor.

This is the biggest reason I don't want to just go start running ads, without giving everyone lots of time to hash out their reactions and suggestions. If you all responded to the ad proposal with lots of "don't do it!" I wouldn't. Simple as that. I would have to do a lot more thinking about the whole thing, until I could justify it to the real owners of the site.

You generally didn't say that, so ok. I also proposed advertising publically, because an awful lot of you are smarter than me, and have proven over and over that you collectively have way better ideas than I do. This place wouldn't exist without the smart ideas of a lot of interested readers.

Anyway, I just have to basically echo everything Driph said, and double it. You all rock like a three legged bull.

And the convention will be pretty soon. Possibly 2001. :-)

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

This is a good article to bring abo... (3.00 / 1) (#11)
by semis on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 08:03:01 AM EST

semis voted 1 on this story.

This is a good article to bring about discussion. Net communities have been doing this for a while, to different scales: - warez. (Yes, warez is a Bad Thing(tm)) You don't get much in the warez community unless you can offer a site of software to swap. In this case, the currency is the software, or the knowledge of where to get it. - link sites/rings. People know that they won't get hit if people don't link to them. How many times have you seen "we'll link to you if you link to us" ? This is a form of exchange between web sites. It's not really a true currency, but it demonstrates a transaction. thats just a few i can think of from the top of my head. My point? not really a point, rather an observation. Ian.

Use egold. Account free, 100% backe... (1.67 / 3) (#10)
by cfe on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 08:15:54 AM EST

cfe voted 1 on this story.

Use egold. Account free, 100% backed by gold. http://www.e-gold.com/e-gold.asp?cid=138839

Interesting thought. How would you ... (2.00 / 1) (#14)
by Rich on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 09:05:33 AM EST

Rich voted 1 on this story.

Interesting thought. How would you rate this "information currency" I mean someone could put up a whole lot of crap and get a lot of "currency" and someone else would work really hard on one piece of information and wouldn't earn quite so much.
I Expect history will be kind to me as i intend to write is. Winston Churchill

Re: Interesting thought. How would you ... (3.50 / 2) (#15)
by inspire on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 02:24:36 PM EST

As currency, there'd be nothing to stop people from getting ripped off. Just like the real world, people sometimes sell things of great worth cheaply, and sometimes people sell things worth absolutely nothing for large amounts of money. It's up to the consumer to decide whether to buy the goods on offer or not, and whether they trust the vendor to produce the goods as specified.

For an example of people getting ripped off daily, you need look no further than eBay :)
--
What is the helix?
[ Parent ]

Re: Interesting thought. How would you ... (none / 0) (#40)
by Alhazred on Mon Jun 12, 2000 at 12:20:32 PM EST

There ARE rating systems out there.

I have a friend who's done a LOT of thinking on this subject. He even posts here once in a while! :o)
That is not dead which may eternal lie And with strange aeons death itself may die.
[ Parent ]
I too have thought about similar th... (2.00 / 1) (#6)
by SgtPepper on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 09:41:29 AM EST

SgtPepper voted 1 on this story.

I too have thought about similar things, but you are correct. Most users, including myself, are spoiled, it's free, it's always been free, it always will be free.

This story needs references... it's... (2.00 / 1) (#9)
by maynard on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 09:55:15 AM EST

maynard voted -1 on this story.

This story needs references... it's a good topic for discussion but it's too small to stand up on it's own and needs the backing of references from one or more credible economists. But, good topic! Please conduct research and resubmit!

Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.

Information I put up on my site mix... (3.00 / 1) (#8)
by tzanger on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 10:00:35 AM EST

tzanger voted 1 on this story.

Information I put up on my site mixdown.org Will always be free. Whether it by my electronics information, my ideas, my journal or my knowledgebase (by far the most popular of all of them right now). Information is NOT supposed to be paid for, at least not most information.

I see information transfer as a sacred thing. Slapping money down to get it has got to be the easiest, but also the cheesiest way to get it.



Re: Information I put up on my site mix... (4.00 / 1) (#16)
by inspire on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 02:28:42 PM EST

That, of course is a matter of opinion. However people are willing to pay for information, as evidenced by increasing sales of books, magazines and other information-holding media.

Offering information free is a noble goal, and I try to do the same with my TCP/IP metric statistical data (here) but the fact is that people are willing to pay for information (well, maybe not a bunch of ping results) and pay they will.
--
What is the helix?
[ Parent ]

Re: Information I put up on my site mix... (3.00 / 1) (#32)
by tzanger on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 09:47:22 PM EST

That, of course is a matter of opinion. However people are willing to pay for information, as evidenced by increasing sales of books, magazines and other information-holding media.

What I picked up from the article was the intention of all information to be behind some kind of micropayment idea. I buy lots of books and periodicals. However 95% of my book purchases are reference material, which is a different thing in my mind. A publication with data layed out in good form, cross-referenced and indexed is not "information" in the sense that I learn something from it, rather that I have learned (parts) of it and the book/website is there to allow me to forget and come back to refresh. In this case I don't mind paying for it (especially books), since I can lay them open and work from them, read them in the can or tub, etc.... Textbooks, howtos and help sites, IMO, are things that should not be under a lock and key. The more people who know how to do something the better.

I know this goes against "conventional" wisdom and the whole idea behind consulting in general but it is how I feel. I love to teach. Yeah I may know something you don't, but after I explain it we both know and then we can both spread that to another person, and then all those people can spread the knowledge, etc, etc.. I think this is a very good idea. Buy the reference books so you don't have to memorize all the shitty little details, but the concepts and mechanisms for how they work should be able to be found for free.

That's the main idea behind my Knowledgebase. Ideas, howtos, how-not-to's, etc. are published and (eventually) the system itself sorts out what's good and what's not and the links between are reinforced by the system and the people using the system. Old knowledge is never gone, but may be supersceeded by new information which will show up "ahead" of the old, but never 100% replace it. Giving just the answer is not often as important as giving the whole picture, or, as my 4 year old puts it, "Why is it done that way?"

Anyway I'm not sure if this is on topic anymore or not. I don't like the idea of information being locked away and sold to the highest bidder. I'm a little bit of an idealist on this whole information thing, though. :-)



[ Parent ]
I wouldn't mind micropayments for q... (3.00 / 2) (#7)
by Marcin on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 10:21:33 AM EST

Marcin voted 1 on this story.

I wouldn't mind micropayments for quality content. What'd be most useful is if it could be handled by the ISP (ie. the ISP gets charged for the content) so it'd just become part of your monthly bill. (ie. $40/month for unlimited use, includes $5 worth of Micropayment content!, or something).

I read Jakob Nielsen's column, and he's been advocating micropayments for awhile now.
M.

Re: I wouldn't mind micropayments for q... (3.00 / 1) (#22)
by Anonymous Hero on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 03:49:18 PM EST

This is a very workeable idea in principle. I recall that when I used Compuserve in pre-internet days (8 years ago or so) one could pay for shareware this way, it just wound up on your monthly bill. I registered a lot of software I wouldnt have had the energy to do otherwise. Trouble is here in the UK we have a lot of dial in free ISPs with no monthly bill to be amended (though I recall talk of using a premium rate dial in line mooted).

[ Parent ]
Compuserv == centralized clearinghouse (none / 0) (#29)
by kmself on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 06:38:03 PM EST

I see technical issues as the core problem of microcash systems, with a core technical assumption being a decentralized Internet. Compuserv, like AOL and Prodigy, was a centralized system through which payments could be cleared. You've no guarantee of this under a distributed network, and even under AOL it's possible to proxy out, bypassing the central servers.

Decentralization has its advantages, but it's a headache for the bean counters.

--
Karsten M. Self
SCO -- backgrounder on Caldera/SCO vs IBM
Support the EFF!!
There is no K5 cabal.
[ Parent ]

Hmm, E-gold comes to mind. (And it'... (2.00 / 1) (#4)
by fvw on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 10:26:49 AM EST

fvw voted 1 on this story.

Hmm, E-gold comes to mind. (And it's a nice oppertunity to post the url with my referrer id :-) ). But seriously, they do seem like a good candidate for the micropayment system, although I hope that they will co-operate in the adding of more e-gold-ish 'banks', from which you can easily transfer to and from.

Re: Hmm, E-gold comes to mind. (3.00 / 1) (#20)
by cfe on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 02:39:31 PM EST

They are co-operative. I asked James M. Ray why they don't use a broader basket of commodity and he suggested that if someone was to put one up, they could use an e-gold account for the gold share of it.

[ Parent ]

What is e-gold? (none / 0) (#28)
by kmself on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 06:23:45 PM EST

Your post and their site are rather content free.

--
Karsten M. Self
SCO -- backgrounder on Caldera/SCO vs IBM
Support the EFF!!
There is no K5 cabal.
[ Parent ]

Re: What is e-gold? (none / 0) (#41)
by fvw on Tue Jun 27, 2000 at 06:29:40 PM EST

My post is definately content free, it was just meant as a vessle for the link. And though the site isn't a read like war and peace or something like that, they give all the info you need....

[ Parent ]
A pay per view basis is bad for con... (2.50 / 2) (#1)
by Nyarlathotep on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 11:28:19 AM EST

Nyarlathotep voted -1 on this story.

A pay per view basis is bad for consumers since copyright is inherently monopolistic, but untraceable cybercach is very god for consumers since it keeps teh government out of their finances. The best soltion will be "everyone gets used to not paying for anything online," untraceable cybercach get adopted as the standard way of paying for things nline, people refuse to pay for things online because they did not pay for thinbgs previously. Unfortunatly, this senario is probable unrealistic. There will always be morons who use systems which allow companies/government access totheir finatial records and there will always be morons who are wiling to pay for stuff which should be free.
Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!

Interesting concept but...... (1.00 / 1) (#12)
by modred on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 01:00:52 PM EST

modred voted 1 on this story.

Interesting concept but...

Despite my anarchocapitalist bent -... (4.70 / 3) (#2)
by Demona on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 01:25:56 PM EST

Demona voted 1 on this story.

Despite my anarchocapitalist bent -- peaceful, voluntary exchange of values, and any honest profit is a good one -- having seen the Web grow around me, I contend that the "best" sites, in every sense of the word, are produced by people with a true passion for the purpose or subject matter...and whether their site "makes a profit" is utterly secondary.

Re: Despite my anarchocapitalist bent -... (3.00 / 1) (#19)
by inspire on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 02:38:57 PM EST

I agree entirely. But hosting a site, and bandwidth is not free, and ultimately someone has to foot the bill for the expenses involved in running a site. A lot of sites try to solve this by subscription systems, or advertising, or other ways to make a small profit, or at least recover their costs from running a site.
--
What is the helix?
[ Parent ]
Little gripe... micropayments are u... (4.00 / 1) (#5)
by fluffy grue on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 01:59:41 PM EST

fluffy grue voted 1 on this story.

Little gripe... micropayments are usually on the order of less than a cent. Like, $0.001 for a pageview. What makes them not very viable is needing some sort of secure central authority for payment information to be useful (nobody wants to register with multiple micropayment systems, after all), and setting up a server that can handle that sort of thing (able to process hundreds of millions of secure transactions per second) is certainly non-trivial.
--
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]

Re: Little gripe... micropayments are u... (4.00 / 1) (#18)
by inspire on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 02:36:17 PM EST

Setting up centralised authorities, and the servers and soforth are all important technical points, but I'm interested in exploring the social impact of doing something like this - technical solutions tend to go away provided you throw enough money at it, but the entire ethos of the Internet is changing from a noncommercial to a more commercial nature.

I'll concede the point about micropayments being a fraction of a cent, and curse rusty for not building in an 'edit' system earlier :)
--
What is the helix?
[ Parent ]

Re: Little gripe... micropayments are u... (5.00 / 1) (#23)
by fluffy grue on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 03:50:28 PM EST

Ah, but see, the social infrastructure, in this case, relies on a technical infrastructure, IMO. After all, without any simple way for someone to have all their sites' micropayments managed under a single authority, or even a distributed coop of authorities, or some way for websites to bill ISPs directly without getting laughed at - and dealing with all the problems of that, such as the fact many people use 'free' ISPs now and the fact that it's kind of net culture that ISPs pay for their bandwidth and not other peoples' bandwidth...

See, I think a lot of people are more than willing to go to a micropayment scheme to get away from banner ads, as long as it's transparent. Hell, I would support a micropayment system, actually, as long as I could put up a cap on payment amounts (for example, no more than 0.1 cent per page, and no more than US$1 per month, before I just get banner ads instead), though also, that doesn't seem like it'd be more profitable for websites, who routinely get 10 cents per impression and/or 30 cents per clickthrough, and I'd probably just run junkbuster to get around banner ads anyway.

Basically, I don't think it's technologically feasible (even with 'lots of money' thrown into it, because what about international users and the fact that the Internet itself would get VERY heavily saturated by micropayments, unless there's a deferred micropayment architecture at client-side, which then leads to the fact that not everyone wants to run such an invasive client, and whoever writes the client probably wouldn't support anything other than MSIE/Windows, maybe MSIE/MacOS, and at a stretch perhaps Netscape/Linux, leaving other OS and browser users out in the cold)...

I mean, okay, that's overlooking a few other technological possibilities that I'd rather not get into, but that still leaves us with your question, on societal. I think the current scheme is just fine. I think most people think it's just fine. I don't think people would want to directly pay for content, and I think they're fine with the 'network TV' model rather than the 'cable TV' model (see the recent discussion on co-op based advertising from a few days ago).


--
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

Cool. ... (none / 0) (#13)
by nsanch on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 02:18:57 PM EST

nsanch voted 1 on this story.

Cool. Like CIC in Snow Crash

Lemme expand on that... (4.50 / 2) (#21)
by nsanch on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 03:00:47 PM EST

In case you haven't read the book, here's a little explanation: the CIC is the Central Intelligence Corporation and they've got this huge database of info submitted by "freelance hackers," as they're referred to in the book, and other people who come by this info some way or another. These people get a commission from the CIC every time someone comes along, requests that information, and pays for it. Problem is that valuable info is valuable at least partly because it's hard to come by - this means that only a small portion of the population is able to submit any info and end up getting a commission.

I see the same problem with your model - what useful information or service can a viewer really provide to a corporation? You can think of something, probably, but that something is likely not incredibly significant. The fatal flaw with any model like the CIC described above, or pretty much any model where information is traded or bought, is that there are inevitably people who can't, for whatever reason, provide any information or money and end up in a circle of informational(is that a word?) poverty.

The solution: communism, as Marx envisioned it, except applied to information, not capital. To quote the communist manifesto, the communist state is"...an association in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all. " That's one of those quotes that I just can't explain, I just hope you see it. Information spreads the farthest and fastest when it is freely given and taken, and when everyone has an opportunity to get it. Tools for this "communism of information" are already available - look at things like Gnutella and FreeNet. With decentralized systems like this, the mass distribution of information will reach an unprecedented ease, and censorship will be impossible. The need for many sites we have now will disappear as news appears from first-hand sources, and people share their thoughts and feelings through shared editorials.

I hope that's somewhat understandable. Maybe it's a bit farfetched, but the future always looks that way.

- Neil

[ Parent ]
But we already have a currency! (4.00 / 1) (#36)
by Anonymous Hero on Sun Jun 11, 2000 at 06:04:56 AM EST

It is called "information". Take for example, Kuro5hin or Slashdot.

The site gives news (information) to its users, and the users give back comments (information). It's a symbiotic relationship. The payment is in that you contribute something back, if possible, eg. giving a witty comment or submitting a story.

To mix meat world currency into the net residing in the digital world will probably never work. I mean, who needs the stuff from the net to live? Some people do, but for the majority it's just a nice addition to their everyday lives. Like television. If someone asks a "micropayment" or whatever about some resource, I'll think twice whether I actually have a burning urge to have the resource now, or do I need it at all.

Re: But we already have a currency! (none / 0) (#38)
by nsanch on Mon Jun 12, 2000 at 06:55:12 AM EST

Not really. Sites like kuro5hin and /. need information to survive, yes, but they also need "meat world currency" so they can pay for their bandwidth, boxes, etc. As for television, you already pay for that if you have cable. The cost of cable is not just the tv-equivalent of internet bandwidth. Cable companies have to pay to show those channels, I'm pretty sure. They pass that cost on to you in subscription fees. The reason you haven't been asked for micropayments for tv is because you already pay for it in one payment which would not exactly be correctly described as "micro." Neil

[ Parent ]
Re: But we already have a currency! (none / 0) (#39)
by El Volio on Mon Jun 12, 2000 at 09:23:32 AM EST

And that, in a nutshell, is a great summary of the problems facing micropayments. It's too inconvenient right now; however, if there were a straightforward, unobtrusive way to make these micropayments (a nickel to read an in-depth story at the WSJ, a dime to look at all results from a search at IMDB), I wouldn't mind. The problem as it stands is that current systems are unworkable

Eventually, somebody will come up with a good way for site operators to at least recoup their costs and maybe make a modest living (not talking getting rich here, but a living along the lines of your average writer ). It's gotta happen, and I for one would like to see it happen.

[ Parent ]

how do you assign a value to the info? (none / 0) (#37)
by abe1x on Mon Jun 12, 2000 at 12:31:55 AM EST

Still grappling with the logistics of this sceme, how do you propose evalutating the information? IE if someone posts an article, how much viewing time do they get. I could see it working on K5, /. where each post gets rated so the higher ranked posts = more viewing time. But what about sites like epinions or advogato that rank members on prestige? I guess the higher your prestige, the more viewing you get. What about sites that don't have any content ranking?

What about people who just want to get to the info, do they pay in cash/micropayments/being force fed ads? I don't really think the issue is setting up a direct info for info trading system, I think the issue is paying people for their contributions to sites. Why abandon money, which has the crucial advantage of being easily transferable? Why not get money for posting on k5 and use it buy viewing time /., where you'd rather not post, as your sure to get lost in the crowd?

If the entire internet gets monitized, why shouldn't all of us putting in good hours to fill it with info get paid for our efforts. I'm starting to like this idea, as it provides an extra incentive to be insightful, funny, etc...

Anyone have any idea how sites that are implementing this sort of strategy are faring? Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe both epinions and about.com have some thing similar to this.

An Information Economy | 41 comments (41 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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