I think that Flattr is a great concept that deals with monetizing content on the web in a ‘put your money where your mouth is’ way.
Over the past few years, collaboration and crowdsourcing, new ecosystems around winning products and services (Sharemyplaylists is one of my favourites!) and open source architectures have helped organizations leapfrog into new territories. However, a whole new generation of content creators are going unnoticed. The problem? Now that everybody has their 15 minutes of fame through social, and it is an enabler (level playing field) how do we put an economic value to quality content? Yes, bloggers get paid to write certain articles, but how often does it portray their true voice?
On the flip side of things, the ‘noise-to-signal’ ratio, i.e. , the quality of products and services, relative to the volume, is decreasing. A roots of this problem lies in the 3 step recipe of the success of web 2.0 –
a.Rich media content
b. a scalable platform and
c. a social graph
with these 3 elements in place, firms would find raving success. In order to scale, a platform would have to be optimal and intelligent. In order to be optimal and intelligent, it would have to be driven by algorithms, and algorithms can be reverse engineered!
I shall cite two examples from two of the dominant technologies – search engine marketing and influence marketing, which shall hopefully demonstrate the issues prevailing in the digital ecosystem today
Google and junk results
I saw an interesting debate hosted by Professor Wahdia about how Google was increasingly showing bad results in its search – and the reason is simple. Google monetized search and a whole industry was born out of Search Engine Optimization. Organic ranking, Adsense optimization – throw in a number of hot keywords in there, use the rest of the page for advertising something that might be remotely connected. Better still, take out the competition if you put enough keywords in there. The quality of information discovery is getting worse. Although, algorithms are being tuned continuously and it’s good to see that a certain degree of progress is being made to put authors in the rankings.
Sure there is klout and there is peerindex – but there are thousands of other tiwtterati who have gone by the ‘please follow me and I’ll follow you’ mechanism of gaining some sort of critical mass. The idea being that if you have a loud enough voice – then you might get paid for saying things. As a result – don’t be surprised if you have a lead spokesperson from a bulgarian pornographic website following an Indian NGO to help slum rehabilitation!
The video on Flattr is just brilliant. The analogy is exactly what it should be. Flattr publishes a list of things most Flattrd and a revenue chart – but really, if its a good piece of work, there’s nothing quite as rewarding as a nice slice of cake!
Crowdfunding Services like kickstarter are all around a very plan-deploy oriented. They sell a promise. But with flattr, you first do stuff, and half the reward is in purely doing it. Flattr then would be the motivation for content creators to take the plunge – will some actually pay for me to keep doing what I love doing?
It is amazing that the idea came out from the members of Piratebay! When you think of it, (and having spent a lot of time in Copenhagen and a fair bit in Malmo) I think there is a philosophy in Scandinavian innovative thinking that is very pleasing – there is as much innovation coming from a deconstructionist view as there is from a ‘need a solution’ view. Spotify and De-spotify are good examples of this trend, but I’m sure there are more.
How is it working?
Soundcloud is quite possibly the best example of a system that has a definitive use for Flattr. I think we are at a stage in the evolution of the social web where syndication platforms are the only winners. They have learnt to monetize this through content hosting, analytics and network multiplying features – although sadly, content creators still need to be commissioned for winning a project.
I think creativity is limited by the promise of a reward. Yes, necessity has been the mother of invention – but as digital technologies integrate and focus on creating integrated experiences, emerging technologies are often used in a way that the inventors had not been perceived. This can be tracked back to the story of the SMS, which was actually only used for signalling telephony traffic.
The next wave of Flattr’y
I think the next wave of adopters that will find success with Flattr are causes, artists and thought-leaders. Networks often tend to reward far-reaching and boisterous content. Flattr will change the game by rewarding honesty, humility and integrity.
Corporations can start to use it as a reward mechanism for initiatives – employees get to Flattr some causes of their choice?
Powerful platforms for creativity will be thriving with activity. I am a big fan of some of the animation channels on Vimeo and some of the portfolio based creative networks like behance is simply outstanding abound with creative ideas.
There’s a lot of good that can be done with the web. Subcultures are found to be punching way above their (expected) weight through this – and this is driven by the purpose and intent – a lot of them dont run any promotions on their sites.
I think Flattr could contribute significantly to a much cleaner and content rich web. I sincerely hope that my post survives the pollution of the web – and if you want, you too could get me some cake by clicking on the flattr button below! 🙂
Will work for cake!