Flattr: Decentralized Payments Paving A Roadless Web

peter_sunde_0237

Peter Sunde, recently arrested for having been the spokesperson of The Pirate Bay, is lesser known for co-creating Flattr. The fact that Flattr is often forgotten by the media is a clear illustration about how the society doesn’t protect the artists or the citizens. It is now obvious that the copyright establishment fights only to keep its own power.

For years, copyright industry lobbyists have been trying to describe pirates as selfish and greedy, downloading movies only to save or to make money themselves out of the sweat of others. But reality shows that Pirates are often willing to support their favorite artists. They just don’t see the need for an useless third party.

It is a little known fact that, after the trial of The Pirate Bay, Peter Sunde co-created a web service called Flattr. The goal of Flattr? Making it easy to support the content you like on the web.

The way it works is quite simple: create a Flattr account, send some money on it and choose a monthly budget between 2€ and 250€. Then, click on Flattr buttons you cross during your journey on the web. At the end of the month, your monthly budget is divided by the number of clicks. That way, creators get some money and you keep your expense under tight control. I’ve called that “The Paying Web“.

If Flattr was not an overnight worldwide success, mainly due to a chicken-and-egg problem, it is still quite popular, mainly in the German podcast community. In fact, at the bottom of every post on this website, you can find a Flattr button. So why not create an account right now and offer your first Flattr to Peter Sunde, as a way to support him?

If Flattr is often seen as a simple anecdotal tool, it is part of something bigger, a complete shake-up of the way we perceive money or consumption. The ability to pay a Free Price, instead of being coerced into a fixed price, deeply modifies our perception of value. We understand more what and who we want to pay, we try to get rid of useless middlemen like we do any obsolete business model.

The established lobbies have been fighting this change since the start. No famous well-established artist from major labels ever signed up on Flattr or Patreon, despite money waiting for them! Flattr integration is even forbidden on any application on the App Store.

But, in the long term, that doesn’t matter. With Bitcoin and technologies like Ethereum, you can build completely decentralized platforms. In my short story “The Blogger from Tomorrow“, I explained how such a platform could basically make any formal organization, any company or any bank account useless! Not to mention how it could change our democracy.

The question is not whether such changes will happen or not. They already are, like the incredible way OpenWhisperSystems is handling its donations. You can’t stop the future. The real question is “how to handle the change gracefully”? And that’s why people like Peter Sunde are essential to our society. While The Pirate Bay exposed a flaw in the system, Flattr was an answer. Or at least the start of one. Problem. Solution. A true Pirate spirit.

Any honest man can understand how people like Peter Sunde are good for society. But we are not dealing with honesty. We are dealing with selfish minds corrupted by power. Minds who are ready to do anything to keep their power. Minds who will try to block every possible road to a better world.

Fortunately, we don’t have to wait for them. Because, where we are going, we don’t need roads.

Discussion

  1. TG

    Is there a need for Flattr now that we have Bitcoin, Litecoin etc?

    1. Scary Devil Monastery

      As a venue of choice, perhaps? There will always be people who find bitcoin inconvenient and cumbersome. There will always be people swearing by it.

      So setting up a row of buttons for donations/micropayments in the same way you’d add credit card type is not a bad standard to use.

    2. Cyber Killer

      Bitcoin is a currency, Flattr is a payment system using various currencies. They are both separate and different things. Flattr was accepting Bitcoin for a while, but they dropped it later, I’m not sure why.

    3. Zacqary Adam Xeper

      Flattr could easily be converted into a system that runs on top of cryptocurrency architecture once all the whizbang new stuff with automatic crypto-contract enforcement becomes viable, but there’s still a need for it on top of whatever currency you’re using. In that future, people might not necessarily need to join Flattr to get paid through it,which would be nice.

      As of right now, it really bugs me that we could not need something or other anymore because Bitcoin exists. Let’s keep in perspective just how easy it is to live your normal life in most parts of the world through Bitcoin: not very easy. The Bitcoin economy does not yet exist, even now, unless you can eat WordPress subscriptions. So, in the near future, yes, there’s always a need for things that operate with state-issued currency.

    4. TG

      Some good answers. I realise that state money is still the most convenient option, and that the Bitcoin economy still has some distance to go. It’s just that Flattr strikes me as a bolt-on to the legacy banking industry, when there already exists a new, revolutionary means of sending small payments cheaply across the world. I predict it will become obsolete fairly soon, like the Iomega Zip Drive or Sony Minidisc.

    5. Jaxon

      Geez, that’s unllviebabee. Kudos and such.

    6. as desired. Notes I make 1.5 batches of my vegan vanilla pudding recipe, but you can use instant pudding mix if you prefer. Just aim for 3.5 cups of liquid.

  2. Caleb Lanik

    I have never understood the internet’s collective obsession with the letter “e.” We’re either adding it, as in the case of mail and books, or removing it entirely, as happened with flatter, grinder, tinder.

    In any event, I’ve always liked the idea of Flattr, but never ended up using it myself.

  3. Per "wertigon" Ekström

    My biggest critique of Flatter, and don’t get me wrong I think it’s a great system, is that it isn’t a network – it’s a centralised service. We need to build stuff and move away from the centralised client/server model, and do more client/client stuff.

    But that’s probably years and years away for now…. :)

    1. buglord

      as a concept, it can very well work as a personal budget management application, sins all it is, is allocation and distribution, you count your targets, split your budget and send it away, there is no need to have more than one application running locally for such a system to work.

      1. Laurent

        Yep, and then we can wonder why Flattr takes 10% on every transactions…

        1. Low Rank Fox

          Last time I checked it was more like 5%. Are you sure it’s 10%?

          If it’s true it may be because of lack of competition. It’s still a pretty new idea. It’s still A LOT better than the percentages the traditional “publishing industries” take.

        2. gurrfield

          I also think it’s more like 2-5% of each transaction. However much better than the 90-99% traditional publishers take.

  4. […] Flattr: Decentralized Payments Paving A Roadless Web – Falkvinge on Infopolicy Lionel Dricot beschreibt, wie er sich die Zukunft des Payment-Webs vorstellt. Im Grunde wie Flattr, aber dezentraler. Beispielhaft führt er die automatischen Spenden-Weiterleitungen an, wie Openwhispersystems (Textsecure) sie ausprobiert. […]

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  6. D.S. Gruntled

    I think the human race is destined to split into three social estates: The elite, the slaves, and us. “Us” being the people with the awareness, courage, and proactive will and energy to defy our enslavement by mega-corporations and their slimy tentacles. Of course the “slimy tentacles” are politicians, their Police State apparatus, and the tax collector. As the sheep breed amongst themselves, their progeny will become progressively dummer, and as we, the enlightened Promethii, breed amongst ourselves, we will become progressively wiser, nobler, and defiant in the face of the first estate.

    Bitcoin, Flattr, torrenting, Pirate parties; these are all declarations of independence by the third estate, with surely more to come.

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  33. Dianne

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    There is no limit on what you earn – Once you have made a good base of clients, you
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    clean the apartments and also some cleaning equipments.

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    Finally, I think parents and grandparents need to make it clear to students that keeping
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    offer apartment cleaning services are bonded and insured
    so that if any accident were to happen they will take
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    There are a couple of excellent e-courses available that give a
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    prices, what equipment and supplies are needed etc, and in my opinion are
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    Now that you have a set of questions to work with, its time to start contacting companies and get a few estimates.
    To begin with, you would need an office, some people who will clean the
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    and furniture. Finally, I think parents and grandparents need to
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    up to hundreds of dollars in savings on floor
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    The places that are found in this lovely area are there for the convenience of the customers.
    Of course, you don’t want to be doing something every minute of the day, so take some time
    to relax too.

  62. Roseanne

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    There is no limit on what you earn – Once you have made a good base of clients,
    you will see that you can earn as much as you want. Of course, you don’t want to be doing something every minute of the day, so take some time to relax too.

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