An Experiment with Micro-Payments

I know artists aren’t supposed to talk about money, but I’m going to break that rule in this post to talk about a little experiment I’m going to be running for the next few months.

See that little box in the right hand sidebar, above the archive? That is my Flattr Box. Let me explain what that is and why I put it there.

There is a micro-payment service known as “flattr”, and it seems like a really neat idea. Flattr hasn’t really broken into the North-American market yet, but I think this service has the potential to really go somewhere. Unfortunately, it’s a very social thing. Like a fax machine or facebook account, Flattr is utterly useless if only one person has it. It’s value will increase with its popularity.

You know how you can “like” something on facebook? Flattr is sort of like that.

Let’s say you are on a web page, and you want to show the author that you appreciate their work. They could have a “Like” button that is similar to what you see on facebook. But what if you are an extremely altruistic person who wants to do more than give some virtual props?

Let’s say you want to do more than offer moral support. Let’s say you want to send a small donation to the creators to show them your appreciation. But…you can’ be bothered to go through Paypay., because let’s face it, it’s a hassle to log in, enter all the info. Why can’t you just click a button and be done with it? Someone needs to design a system where a single click is all it takes to send a small token of support to a content creator.

That’s where flatter comes in.

You register an account. You set your monthly allowance. You flatter the pages you like. Your monthly allowance is split between those pages. That’s all there is to it.

After creating and setting up your account, you are asked to load some money into an account. Then you set your monthly amount to pay out. The minimum you can pay out is 2 Euros a month. (Perhaps this is why the service is not making a splash in the North American Market – give us dollars to deal with, flattr people!) When you see something online that you like, look for a flatter button. If you see one, click it. If you click only one thing that month, they get all of your monthly allowance, if you click 100 things, they each get 1% of your monthly allowance. If you don’t like anything, your monthly allowance goes to charity.

One of the rules of Flattr is, you have to give to get. I can’t benefit from the system without first putting anything into the system. I have allotted 2 euros per month, and I put enough in my account to give me a 4-month stockpile of credits, so I will be testing this service out for a third of a year.

Flatter seems like a really interesting idea, I’m not sure if it will work in the long run, but I’m a nerd, and I like messing around with things that I find interesting, so why not test it out and see what happens?

I will report back on the results, either when my credits run out, or when something interesting happens.

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Kyle Clements

Kyle Clements is a Toronto-based artist and nerd. During his thesis at the Ontario College of Art and Design, Kyle began working on his Urban Landscapes series, a body of work that aims to capture the energy and excitement of life in the fast-paced urban environment. After graduating from OCAD in 2006, Kyle spent a year living in Asia to gather source material and experience in a different kind or urban environment. His work is vibrant and colourful. Whether painting the harsh Northern landscape, or capturing the overwhelming buzz of life in the city, his acrylic paintings hover between representation and abstraction.

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