Kudos redux, #3 (Schrage column on frequent browser points)

Rohit Khare (khare@w3.org)
Sat, 10 Aug 1996 23:40:08 -0400 (EDT)


Schrage's column on Packet this week contains another appearance of
the "attention as currency" meme:

> For example, how might "frequent browser points" plans be grafted onto
> the webfrastructure in ways that replicate the benefits of
> frequent-flyer plans, but with their own unique value propositions?

You can attempt to passively measure users' interest in your content;
you can reward them with microcurrency; users can indicate interest by
"spending" microcurrency on "good stuff", but how can you monetize
attention units? That "value proposition" is a hard one.

I've spent lots of time spinning scenarios with Adam on how to
make browsing pay, at some finer grain than Cybergold's here's-$5-to-
see-an-ad. Authors and readers are players in a marketplace commonly
grounded only by time. Authors spend time to prepare information, and
consumers spend time evaluating it. In a nonmonetized marketplace, we
see low-quality, unorganized, unrecognized information. If, for every
10 pages viewed, you got a "kudo", you could spend it on someone's content
you liked. Collecting Kudos could become a sport more popular than hit
counting odometers. Then, of course, some content could start requiring
kudos upfront, or popular authors could cash kudos into advertising space,
or whatever -- currencies have myriad unpredicted uses. This money, though,
is currently only denominated in accidental praise, which makes the entire
Web an exhibitionist ego trip. If we could invent a new currency backed
by eyeballs, neurons, and time alone...

Of course, you have to control the money supply to make this work... how
can distributed, simple software even begin to honestly reward attention?
Millicent and other micropayment proposals require centralized clearinghouses.
Still, it would be an interesting experiment to issue microscrip backed
mainly by curiosity...

Rohit Khare