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Responses to Clay Shirky on Micropayments

michael posted about 11 years ago | from the macroarguments dept.

The Media 131

FrnkMit writes "Others besides Slashdotters have responded to Clay Shirky's latest article on Micropayments, including long-time micropayment booster Scott McCloud and the MIT Technology Review."

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GNAA Announces acquisition of SCO (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6955955)

GNAA Announces acquisition of SCO
By Tim Copperfield
New York, NY - GNAA (Gay Nigger Association of America) today announced acquisition of The SCO Group [] for $26.9 million in stock and $40 million in gay niggers.

GNAA today announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire the intellectual property and technology assets of The SCO Group, a leading provider of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt, based in Lindon, Utah. GNAA's acquisition of SCO technology will help GNAA sign up more members worldwide. In addition to developing new solutions, GNAA will use SCO engineering expertise and technology to enhance the GNAA member services.

"I'd love to see these GNAA types slowly consumed by millions of swarming microbes and converted into harmless and useful biochemicals." said an anonymous slashdot poster, blinded by the GNAA success in achieving first post on a popular geek news website, [] .

"This GNAA shit is getting out of hand. Slashdot needs troll filters. Or better yet a crap flood mod that I can exclude from my browsing. Seriously, a good troll is art, what you dumb fucks are doing is just plain stupid." said spacecowboy420.

macewan, on linuxquestions [] said "Thanks for that link to the SCO quotes page. My guess is that they want to be bought out. Hrm, think they want GNAA to buy them??"

After careful consideration and debate, GNAA board of directors agreed to purchase 6,426,600 preferred shares and 113,102 common shares (the equivalent of 150,803 ADSs) of SCO, for an aggregate consideration of approximately US$26.9 million and approximately $40 million for gay niggers that were working in Lindon, Utah offices of The SCO Group.

If all goes well, the final decision is to be expected shortly, followed by transfer of most SCO niggers from their Lindon, UT offices to the GNAA Headquarters in New York.

About GNAA
GNAA (GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA) is the first organization which
gathers GAY NIGGERS from all over America and abroad for one common goal - being GAY NIGGERS.

Are you GAY [] ?
Are you a NIGGER [] ?
Are you a GAY NIGGER [] ?

If you answered "Yes" to any of the above questions, then GNAA (GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA) might be exactly what you've been looking for!
Join GNAA (GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA) today, and enjoy all the benefits of being a full-time GNAA member.
GNAA (GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA) is the fastest-growing GAY NIGGER community with THOUSANDS of members all over United States of America. You, too, can be a part of GNAA if you join today!

Why not? It's quick and easy - only 3 simple steps!

First, you have to obtain a copy of GAY NIGGERS FROM OUTER SPACE THE MOVIE [] and watch it.

Second, you need to succeed in posting a GNAA "first post" on [] , a popular "news for trolls" website

Third, you need to join the official GNAA irc channel #GNAA on EFNet, and apply for membership.
Talk to one of the ops or any of the other members in the channel to sign up today!

If you are having trouble locating #GNAA, the official GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA irc channel, you might be on a wrong irc network. The correct network is EFNet, and you can connect to or as one of the EFNet servers.
If you do not have an IRC client handy, you are free to use the GNAA Java IRC client by clicking here [] .

About SCO
The SCO Group [SCOX [] ] helps millions of gay niggers in more than 82 countries around the world grow their penises everyday. Headquartered in Lindon, Utah, SCO has a network of more than 11,000 nigger resellers and 8,000 developers. SCO Global Services provides reliable nigger support and services to prospective members and customers.
SCO and the associated SCO logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of The SCO Group, Inc. in the U.S. and other countries. UNIX and UnixWare are registered trademarks of The Open Group in the United States and other countries. All other brand or product names are or may be trademarks of their respective owners.

This news release contains forward-looking statements that involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions. All statements other than statements of historical fact are statements that could be deemed forward-looking statements. These statements are based on management's current expectations and are subject to uncertainty and changes in circumstances. Actual results may vary materially from the expectations contained herein. The forward-looking statements contained herein include statements about the consummation of the transaction with SCO and benefits of the pending transaction with SCO. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those described herein include the inability to obtain regulatory approvals and the inability to successfully integrate the SCO business. GNAA is under no obligation to (and expressly disclaims any such obligation to) update or alter its forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

If you have mod points and would like to support GNAA, please moderate this post up.

| ______________________________________._a,____ |
| _______a_._______a_______aj#0s_____aWY!400.___ |
| __ad#7!!*P____a.d#0a____#!-_#0i___.#!__W#0#___ |
| _j#'_.00#,___4#dP_"#,__j#,__0#Wi___*00P!_"#L,_ |
| _"#ga#9!01___"#01__40,_"4Lj#!_4#g_________"01_ |
| ________"#,___*@`__-N#____`___-!^_____________ |
| _________#1__________?________________________ |
| _________j1___________________________________ |
| ____!4yaa#l___________________________________ |
| ______-"!^____________________________________ |
` _______________________________________________'

Member of GNAA (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6956190)

Member of GNAA, look into your heart. You know you are a complete fraud and a great liability to all of us Negroes. White people in this country have enough frauds of their own but I am sure that they don't have one at this time that is any where near your equal. You are no clergyman and you know it. I repeat you are a colossal fraud and an evil, vicious one at that.

Member of GNAA, there is only one thing left for you to do. You know what it is. You have just 34 days in which to do (this exact number has been selected for a specific reason, it has definite practical significant. [sic] You are done. There is but one way out for you. You better take it before your filthy, abnormal fraudulent self is bared to the nation.

My ex (-1, Flamebait)

pantycrickets (694774) | about 11 years ago | (#6955963)

My exgirlfriend said she was giving me micropayments, but I realized she was just making some sad refernece to the size of my uhhh... bedroom, I think is what she meant.

Re:My ex (-1, Offtopic)

pantycrickets (694774) | about 11 years ago | (#6956125)

Man, slashdot moderation: it's like letting the bad taste of a democracy loose on the public. -1 Flamebait.. for something like that? This place has really gone to shit.

Mods on opium? (-1)

Suicide Bomberman (679592) | about 11 years ago | (#6956131)

It is so long since I first took opium, that if it had been a trifling incident in my life, I might have forgotten its date: but cardinal events are not to be forgotten; and from circumstances connected with it, I remember that it must be referred to the autumn of 1804. During that season I was in London, having come thither for the first time since my entrance at college. And my introduction to opium arose in the following way. From an early age I had been accustomed to wash my head in cold water at least once a day: being suddenly seized with toothache, I attributed it to some relaxation caused by an accidental intermission of that practice; jumped out of bed; plunged my head into a bason of cold water; and with hair thus wetted went to sleep. The next morning, as I need hardly say, I awoke with excruciating rheumatic pains of the head and face, from which I had hardly any respite for about twenty days. On the twenty-first day, I think it was, and on a Sunday, that I went out into the streets; rather to run away, if possible, from my torments, than with any distinct purpose. By accident I met a college acquaintance who recommended opium. Opium! dread agent of unimaginable pleasure and pain! I had heard of it as I had of manna or of Ambrosia, but no further: how unmeaning a sound was it at that time! what solemn chords does it now strike upon my heart! what heart-quaking vibrations of sad and happy remembrances! Reverting for a moment to these, I feel a mystic importance attached to the minutest circumstances connected with the place and the time, and the man (if man he was) that first laid open to me the Paradise of Opium-eaters. It was a Sunday afternoon, wet and cheerless: and a duller spectacle this earth of ours has not to show than a rainy Sunday in London. My road homewards lay through Oxford-street; and near "the /stately/ Pantheon," (as Mr. Wordsworth has obligingly called it) I saw a druggist's shop. The druggist -- unconscious minister of celestial pleasures! -- as if in sympathy with the rainy Sunday, looked dull and stupid, just as any mortal druggist might be expected to look on a Sunday; and, when I asked for the tincture of opium, he gave it to me as any other man might do: and furthermore, out of my shilling, returned me what seemed to be real copper halfpence, taken out of a real wooden drawer. Nevertheless, in spite of such indications of humanity, he has ever since existed in my mind as the beatific vision of an immortal druggist, sent down to earth on a special mission to myself. And it confirms me in this way of considering him, that, when I next came up to London, I sought him near the stately Pantheon, and found him not: and thus to me, who knew not his name (if indeed he had one) he seemed rather to have vanished from Oxford-street than to have removed in any bodily fashion. The reader may choose to think of him as, possibly, no more than a sublunary druggist: it may be so: but my faith is better: I believe him to have evanesced,{1} or evaporated. So unwillingly would I connect any mortal remembrances with that hour, and place, and creature, that first brought me acquainted with the celestial drug. Arrived at my lodgings, it may be supposed that I lost not a moment in taking the quantity prescribed. I was necessarily ignorant of the whole art and mystery of opium-taking: and, what I took, I took under every disadvantage. But I took it: -- and in an hour, oh! Heavens! what a revulsion! what an upheaving, from its lowest depths, of the inner spirit! what an apocalypse of the world within me! That my pains had vanished, was now a trifle in my eyes: -- this negative effect was swallowed up in the immensity of those positive effects which had opened before me -- in the abyss of divine enjoyment thus suddenly revealed. Here was a panacea -- a [pharmakon nepenthez] for all human woes: here was the secret of happiness, about which philosophers had disputed for so many ages, at once discovered: happiness might now be bought for a penny, and carried in the waistcoat pocket: portable ecstasies might be had corked up in a pint bottle: and peace of mind could be sent down in gallons by the mail coach. But, if I talk in this way, the reader will think I am laughing: and I can assure him, that nobody will laugh long who deals much with opium: its pleasures even are of a grave and solemn complexion; and in his happiest state, the opium-eater cannot present himself in the character of /Il Allegro/: even then, he speaks and thinks as becomes /Il Penseroso/. Nevertheless, I have a very reprehensible way of jesting at times in the midst of my own misery: and, unless when I am checked by some more powerful feelings, I am afraid I shall be guilty of this indecent practice even in these annals of suffering or enjoyment. The reader must allow a little to my infirm nature in this respect: and with a few indulgences of that sort, I shall endeavour to be as grave, if not drowsy, as fits a theme like opium, so anti-mercurial as it really is, and so drowsy as it is falsely reputed. And, first, one word with respect to its bodily effects: for upon all that has been hitherto written on the subject of opium, whether by travellers in Turkey (who may plead their privilege of lying as an old immemorial right), or by professors of medicine, writing /ex cathedra/, -- I have but one emphatic criticism to pronounce -- Lies! lies! lies! I remember once, in passing a book-stall, to have caught these words from a page of some satiric author: -- "By this time I became convinced that the London newspapers spoke truth at least twice a week, viz. on Tuesday and Saturday, and might safely be depended upon for -- the list of bankrupts." In like manner, I do by no means deny that some truths have been delivered to the world in regard to opium: thus it has been repeatedly affirmed by the learned, that opium is a dusky brown in colour; and this, take notice, I grant: secondly, that it is rather dear; which I also grant: for in my time, East-India opium has been three guineas a pound, and Turkey eight: and, thirdly, that if you eat a good deal of it, most probably you must -- do what is particularly disagreeable to any man of regular habits, viz. die.{2} These weighty propositions are, all and singular, true: I cannot gainsay them: and truth ever was, and will be, commendable. But in these three theorems, I believe we have exhausted the stock of knowledge as yet accumulated by man on the subject of opium. And therefore, worthy doctors, as there seems to be room for further discoveries, stand aside, and allow me to come forward and lecture on this matter. First, then, it is not so much affirmed as taken for granted, by all who ever mention opium, formally or incidentally, that it does, or can, produce intoxication. Now reader, assure yourself, /meo periculo/, that no quantity of opium ever did, or could intoxicate. As to the tincture of opium (commonly called laudanum) /that/ might certainly intoxicate if a man could bear to take enough of it; but why? because it contains so much proof spirit, and not because it contains so much opium. But crude opium, I affirm peremptorily, is incapable of producing any state of body at all resembling that which is produced by alcohol; and not in /degree/ only incapable, but even in /kind/: it is not in the quantity of its effects merely, but in the quality, that it differs altogether. The pleasure given by wine is always mounting, and tending to a crisis, after which it declines: that from opium, when once generated, is stationary for eight or ten hours: the first, to borrow a technical distinction from medicine, is a case of acute -- the second, of chronic pleasure: the one is a flame, the other a steady and equable glow. But the main distinction lies in this, that whereas wine disorders the mental faculties, opium, on the contrary (if taken in a proper manner), introduces amongst them the most exquisite order, legislation, and harmony. Wine robs a man of his self possession: opium greatly invigorates it. Wine unsettles and clouds the judgment, and gives a preternatural brightness, and a vivid exaltation to the contempts and the admirations, the loves and the hatreds, of the drinker: opium, on the contrary, communicates serenity and equipoise to all the faculties, active or passive: and with respect to the temper and moral feelings in general, it gives simply that sort of vital warmth which is approved by the judgment, and which would probably always accompany a bodily constitution of primeval or antediluvian health. Thus, for instance, opium, like wine, gives an expansion to the heart and the benevolent affections: but then, with this remarkable difference, that in the sudden development of kind-heartedness which accompanies inebriation, there is always more or less of a maudlin character, which exposes it to the contempt of the by-stander. Men shake hands, swear eternal friendship, and shed tears -- no mortal knows why: and the sensual creature is clearly uppermost. But the expansion of the benigner feelings, incident to opium, is no febrile access, but a healthy restoration to that state which the mind would naturally recover upon the removal of any deep- seated irritation of pain that had disturbed and quarrelled with the impulses of a heard originally just and good. True it is, that even wine, up to a certain point, and with certain men, rather tends to exalt and to steady the intellect: I myself, who have never been a great wine-drinker, used to find that half a dozen glasses of wine advantageously affected the faculties -- brightened and intensified the consciousness -- and gave to the mind a feeling of being "ponderibus librata suis:" and certainly it is most absurdly said, in popular language, of any man, that he is /disguised/ in liquor: for, on the contrary, most men are disguised by sobriety; and it is when they are drinking (as some old gentleman says in Athenaeus), that men [eantonz emfanixondin oitinez eidin]. -- display themselves in their true complexion of character; which surely is not disguising themselves. But still, wine constantly leads a man to the brink of absurdity and extravagance; and, beyond a certain point, it is sure to volatilize and to disperse the intellectual energies: whereas opium always seems to compose what had been agitated, and to concentrate what had been distracted. In short, to sum up all in one word, a man who is inebriated, or tending to inebriation, is, and feels that he is, in a condition which calls up into supremacy the merely human, too often the brutal, part of his nature: but the opium-eater (I speak of him who is not suffering from any disease, or other remote effects of opium) feels that the diviner part of his nature is paramount; that is, the moral affections are in a state of cloudless serenity; and over all is the great light of the majestic intellect. This is the doctrine of the true church on the subject of opium: of which church I acknowledge myself to be the only member -- the alpha and the omega: but then it is to be recollected, that I speak from the ground of a large and profound personal experience: whereas most of the unscientific{3} authors who have at all treated of opium, and even of those who have written expressly on the materia medica, make it evident, from the horror they express of it, that their experimental knowledge of its action is none at all. I will, however, candidly acknowledge that I have met with one person who bore evidence to its intoxicating power, such as staggered my own incredulity: for he was a surgeon, and had himself taken opium largely. I happened to say to him, that his enemies (as I had heard) charged him with talking nonsense on politics, and that his friends apologized for him, by suggesting that he was constantly in a state of intoxication from opium. Now the accusation, said I, is not /prima facie/, and of necessity, an absurd one: but the defence /is/. To my surprise, however, he insisted that both his enemies and his friends were in the right: "I will maintain," said he, "that I /do/ talk nonsense; and secondly, I will maintain that I do not talk nonsense upon principle, or with any view to profit, but solely and simply, said he, solely and simply, -- solely and simply (repeating it three times over), because I am drunk with opium; and /that/ daily." I replied that, as to the allegation of his enemies, as it seemed to be established upon such respectable testimony, seeing that the three parties concerned all agreed in it, it did not become me to question it; but the defence set up I must demur to. He proceeded to discuss the matter, and to lay down his reasons: but it seemed to me so impolite to pursue an argument which must have presumed a man mistaken in a point belonging to his own profession, that I did not press him even when his course of argument seemed open to objection: not to mention that a man who talks nonsense, even though "with no view to profit," is not altogether the most agreeable partner in a dispute, whether as opponent or respondent. I confess, however, that the authority of a surgeon, and one who was reputed a good one, may seem a weighty one to my prejudice: but still I must plead my experience, which was greater than his greatest by 7000 drops a day; and, though it was not possible to suppose a medical man unacquainted with the characteristic symptoms of vinous intoxication, it yet struck me that he might proceed on a logical error of using the word intoxication with too great latitude, and extending it generically to all modes of nervous excitement, connected with certain diagnostics. Some people have maintained, in my hearing, that they had been drunk on green tea: and a medical student in London, for whose knowledge in his profession I have reason to feel great respect, assured me, the other day, that a patient, in recovering from an illness, had got drunk on a beef-steak. Having dwelt so much on this first and leading error, in respect t opium, I shall notice very briefly a second and a third; which are, that the elevation of spirits produced by opium is necessarily followed by a proportionate depression, and that the natural and even immediate consequence of opium is torpor and stagnation, animal and mental. The first of these errors I shall content myself with simply denying; assuring my reader, that for ten years, during which I took opium at intervals, the day succeeding to that on which I allowed myself this luxury was always a day of unusually good spirits. With respect to the torpor supposed to follow, or rather (if we were to credit the numerous pictures of Turkish opium-eaters) to accompany the practice of opium-eating, I deny that also. Certainly, opium is classed under the head of narcotics; and some such effect it may produce in the end: but the primary effects of opium are always, and in the highest degree, to excite and stimulate the system: this first stage of its action always lasted with me, during my noviciate, for upwards of eight hours; so that it must be the fault of the opium-eater himself if he does not so time his exhibition of the dose (to speak medically) as that the whole weight of its narcotic influence may descend upon his sleep. Turkish opium-eaters, it seems, are absurd enough to sit, like so many equestrian statues, on logs of wood as stupid as themselves. But that the reader may judge of the degree in which opium is likely to stupify the faculties of an Englishman, I shall (by way of treating the question illustratively, rather than argumentively) describe the way in which I myself often passed an opium evening in London, during the period between 1804-1812. It will be seen, that at least opium did not move me to seek solitude, and much less to seek inactivity, or the torpid state of self- involution ascribed to the Turks. I give this account at the risk of being pronounced a crazy enthusiast or visionary: but I regard /that/ little: I must desire my reader to bear in mind, that I was a hard student, and at severe studies for all the rest of my time: and certainly had a right occasionally to relaxations as well as the other people: these, however, I allowed myself but seldom. The late Duke of Norfolk used to say, "Next Friday, by the blessing of Heaven, I purpose to be drunk:" and in like manner I used to fix beforehand how often, within a given time, and when, I would commit a debauch of opium. This was seldom more than once in three weeks: for at that time I could no have ventured to call every day (as I did afterwards) for "/a glass of laudanum negus, warm, and without sugar/." No: as I have said, I seldom drank laudanum, at that time, more than once in three weeks: this was usually on a Tuesday or a Saturday night; my reason for which was this. In those days Grassini sang at the Opera: and her voice was delightful to me beyond all that I had ever heard. I know not what may be the state of the Opera- house now, having never been within its walls for seven or eight years, but at that time it was by much the most pleasant place of public resort in London for passing an evening. Five shillings admitted one to the gallery, which was subject to far less annoyance than the pit of the theatres: the orchestra was distinguished by its sweet and melodious grandeur from all English orchestras, the composition of which, I confess, is not acceptable to my ear, from the predominance of the clangorous instruments, and the absolute tyranny of the violin. The choruses were divine to hear: and when Grassini appeared in some interlude, as she often did, and poured forth her passionate soul as Andromache, at the tomb of Hector, &c. I question whether any Turk, of all that ever entered the Paradise of opium-eaters, can have had half the pleasure I had. But, indeed, I honour the Barbarians too much by supposing them capable of any pleasures approaching to the intellectual ones of an Englishman. For music is an intellectual or a sensual pleasure, according to the temperament of him who hears it. And, by the bye, with the exception of the fine extravaganza on that subject in Twelfth Night, I do not recollect more than one thing said adequately on the subject of music in all literature: it is a passage in the /Religio Medici/{4} of Sir T. Brown; and, though chiefly remarkable for its sublimity, has also a philosophic value, inasmuch as it points to the true theory of musical effects. The mistake of most people is to suppose that it is by the ear they communicate with music, and, therefore, that they are purely passive to its effects. But this is not so: it is by the re-action of the mind upon the notices of the ear, (the /matter/ coming by the senses, the /form/ from the mind) that the pleasure is constructed: and therefore it is that people of equally good ear differ so much in this point from one another. Now opium, by greatly increasing the activity of the mind generally, increases, of necessity, that particular mode of its activity by which we are able to construct out of the raw material of organic sound an elaborate intellectual pleasure. But, says a friend, a succession of musical sounds is to me like a collection of Arabic characters: I can attach no ideas to them. Ideas! my good sir? there is no occasion for them: all that class of ideas, which can be available in such a case, has a language of representative feelings. But this is a subject foreign to my present purposes: it is sufficient to say, that a chorus, &c. of elaborate harmony, displayed before me, as in a piece of arras work, the whole of my past life -- not, as if recalled by an act of memory, but as if present and incarnated in the music: no longer painful to dwell upon: but the detail of its incidents removed, or blended in some hazy abstraction; and its passions exalted, spiritualized, and sublimed. All this was to be had for five shillings. And over nd above the music of the stage and the orchestra, I had all around me, in the intervals of the performance, the music of the Italian language talked by Italian women: for the gallery was usually crowded with Italians: and I listened with a pleasure such as that with which Weld the traveller lay and listened, in Canada, to the sweet laughter of Indian women; for the less you understand of a language, the more sensible you are to the melody or harshness of its sounds: for such a purpose, therefore, it was an advantage to me that I was a poor Italian scholar, reading it but little, and not speaking it at all, nor understanding a tenth part of what I heard spoken. These were my Opera pleasures: but another pleasure I had which, as it could be had only on a Saturday night, occasionally struggled with my love of the Opera; for, at that time, Tuesday and Saturday were the regular Opera nights. On this subject I am afraid I shall be rather obscure, but, I can assure the reader, not at all more so than Marinus in his life of Proclus, or many other biographers and auto-biographers of fair reputation. This pleasure, I have said, was to be had only on a Saturday night. What then was Saturday night to me more than any other night? I had no labours that I rested from; no wages to receive: what needed I to care for Saturday night, more than as it was a summons to hear Grassini? True, most logical reader: what you say is unanswerable. And yet so it was and is, that, whereas different men throw their feelings into different channels, and most are apt to show their interest in the concerns of the poor, chiefly by sympathy, expressed in some shape or other, with their distresses and sorrows, I, at that time, was disposed to express my interest by sympathising with their pleasures. The pains of poverty I had lately seen too much of; more than I wished to remember: but the pleasures of the poor, their consolations of spirit, and their reposes from bodily toil, can never become oppressive to contemplate. Now Saturday night is the season for the chief, regular, and periodic return of rest to the poor: in this point the most hostile sects unite, and acknowledge a common link of brotherhood: almost all Christendom rests from its labours. It is a rest introductory to another rest: and divided by a whole day and two nights from the renewal of toil. On this account I feel always, on a Saturday night, as though I also were released from some yoke of labour, had some wages to receive, and some luxury of repose to enjoy. For the sake, therefore, of witnessing, upon as large a scale as possible, a spectacle with which my sympathy was so entire, I used often, on Saturday nights, after I had taken opium, to wander forth, without much regarding the direction or the distance, to all the markets, and other parts of London, to which the poor resort on a Saturday night, for laying out their wages. Many a family party, consisting of a man, his wife, and sometimes one or two of his children, have I listened to, as they stood consulting on their ways and means, or the strength of their exchequer, or the price of household articles. Gradually I became familiar with their wishes, their difficulties, and their opinions. Sometimes there might be heard murmurs of discontent: but far oftener expressions on the countenance, or uttered in words, of patience, hope, and tranquility. And taken generally, I must say, that, in this point at least, the poor are far more philosophic than the rich -- that they show a more ready and cheerful submission to what they consider as irremediably evils, or irreparable losses. Whenever I saw occasion, or could do it without appearing to be intrusive, I joined their parties; and gave my opinion upon the matter in discussion, which, if not always judicious, was always received indulgently. If wages were a little higher, or expected to be so, or the quartern loaf a little lower, or it was reported that onions and butter were expected to fall, I was glad: yet, if the contrary were true, I drew from opium some means of consoling myself. For opium (like the bee, that extracts its materials indiscriminately from roses and from the soot of chimneys) can overrule all feelings into a compliance with the master key. Some of these rambles led me to great distances: for an opium-eater is too happy to observe the motion of time. And sometimes in my attempts to steer homewards, upon nautical principles, by fixing my eye on the pole-star, and seeking ambitiously for a north-west passage, instead of circumnavigating all the capes and head-lands I had doubled in my outward voyage, I came suddenly upon such knotty problems of alleys, such enigmatical entries, and such sphynx's riddles of streets without thoroughfares, as must, I conceive, baffle the audacity of porters, and confound the intellects of hackney- coachmen. I could almost have believed, at times, that I must be the first discoverer of some of these /terrae incognitae/, and doubted, whether they had yet been aid down in the modern charts of London. For all this, however, I paid a heavy price in distant years, when the human face tyrannized over my dreams, and the perplexities of my steps in London came back and haunted my sleep, with the feeling of perplexities moral or intellectual, that brought confusion to the reason, or anguish and remorse to the conscience. Thus I have shown that opium does not, of necessity, produce inactivity or torpor; but that, on the contrary, it often led me into markets and theatres. Yet, in candour, I will admit that markets and theatres are not the appropriate haunts of the opium-eater, when in the divinest state incident to his enjoyment. In that state, crowds become an oppression to him; music even, too sensual and gross. He naturally seeks solitude and silence, as indispensable conditions of those trances, or profoundest reveries, which are the crown and consummation of what opium can do for human nature. I, whose disease it was to meditate too much, and to observe too little, and who, upon my first entrance at college, was nearly falling into a deep melancholy, from brooding too much on the sufferings which I had witnessed in London, was sufficiently aware of the tendencies of my own thoughts to do all I could to counteract them. -- I was, indeed, like a person who, according to the old legend, had entered the cave of Trophonius: and the remedies I sought were to force myself into society, and to keep my understanding in continual activity upon matters of science. But for these remedies, I should certainly have become hypochondriacally melancholy. In after years, however, when my cheerfulness was more fully re-established, I yielded to my natural inclination for a solitary life. And, at that time, I often fell into these reveries upon taking opium; and more than once it has happened to me, on a summer-night, when I have been at an open window, in a room from which I could overlook the sea at a mile below me, and could command a view of the great town of Liverpool, at about the same distance, that I have sate, from sun-set to sun-rise, motionless, and without wishing to move. I shall be charged with mysticism, behmenism, quietism, &c. but /that/ shall not alarm me. Sir H. Vane, the younger, was one of our wisest men: and let my readers see if he, in his philosophical works, be half as unmystical as I am. -- I say, then, that it has often struck me that the scene itself was somewhat typical of what took place in such a reverie. The town of Liverpool represented the earth, with its sorrows and its graves left behind, yet not out of sight, nor wholly forgotten. The ocean, in everlasting but gentle agitation, and brooded over by a dove-like calm, might not unfitly typify the mind and the mood which then swayed it. For it seemed to me as if then first I stood at a distance, and aloof from the uproar of life; as if the tumult, the fever, and the strife, were suspended; a respite granted from the secret burthens of the heart; a sabbath of repose; a resting from human labours. Here were the hopes which blossom in the paths of life, reconciled with the peace which is in the grave; motions of the intellect as unwearied as the heavens, yet for all anxieties a halcyon calm: a tranquility that seemed no product of inertia, but as if resulting from mighty and equal antagonisms; infinite activities, infinite repose. Oh! just, subtle, and mighty opium! that to the hearts of poor and rich alike, for the wounds that will never heal, and for "the pangs that tempt the spirit to rebel," bringest and assuaging balm; eloquent opium! that with thy potent rhetoric stealest away the purposes of wrath; and to the guilty man, for one night givest back the hopes of his youth, and hands washed pure from blood; and to the proud man, a brief oblivion for wrongs unredress'd, and insults unavenged; that summonest to the chancery of dreams, for the triumphs of suffering innocence, false witnesses; and confoundest perjury; and dost reverse the sentences of unrighteous judges: -- thou buildest upon the bosom of darkness, out of the fantastic imagery of the brain, cities and temples, beyond the art of Phidias and Praxiteles -- beyond the splendour of Babylon and Hekatompylos: and "from the anarchy of dreaming sleep," callest into sunny light the faces of long-buried beauties, and the blessed household countenances, cleansed from the "dishonours of the grave." Thou only givest these gifts to man; and thou hast the keys of Paradise, oh, just, subtle, and mighty opium!

Re:My ex (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6956254)

Your post didn't make sense. Even if it did it wouldn't have been funny. Flamebait was absolutely the correct moderation in this instance.

Lethargy! (4, Interesting)

Scoria (264473) | about 11 years ago | (#6955965)

Registration, however trivial, is ultimately inconvenient to the casual browser. These individuals are likely dedicating a minimal amount of effort to your website.

Re:Lethargy! (0)

kikai suki (693400) | about 11 years ago | (#6956027)

Yep, one just can't easily memorise 80,000 paswords from every site that wants to track his movements and make money off the data. They should stop pushing the envelope of crappyness and stop at the dumb ads embeded in the contents. Leave the crappyness barrier unbroken. (though it seems the (ab)users of flash for ads are comming pretty close... they should be experiencing shimmying and loss of control by now... Oh, wait! they are out of control!).

Obligatory PA (5, Funny)

Hamstaus (586402) | about 11 years ago | (#6955968)

Any article mentioning Scott McCloud must of course include the views of two of my favourite philosophers [] .

(P.S. If you read the news article that goes with it, you'll see that the comic is actually about micropayments.)

Re:Obligatory PA (1)

michaelpatrick (707176) | about 11 years ago | (#6957397)

Tycho made some good points in that article, but he eventually retracted most of it. He finally came to the conclusion that even though micropayments aren't for him, they might work for some folks. Hell, I'm probably totally misrepresenting what he said (It's been a while) but he said something like that.

Frivolous lawsuit (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6955971)

The SCO v. everyone lawsuit is 100% frivolous. It is almost as bad, but less humorous, as the "I spilled hot coffee on my lap. Time to go sue McDonald's!" frivolous lawsuit of a few years ago.

Micropayment? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6955973)


Slashdot cliche? (2, Funny)

Scoria (264473) | about 11 years ago | (#6956012)

Insolvency! :-)

Re:Micropayment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6956215)

femtotroll !

Re:Micropayment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6957286)

Nanoprofit pronunciation:
Nah No Porfit

Harry Goz, Sealab 2021 voice actor, dead at 71 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6955975)

I just heard some sad news on talk radio - the voice of Captain Murphy, Harry Goz, (link [] - link [] ) was found dead last week. There weren't any more details. I'm sure everyone in the Slashdot community will miss him, even if you didn't enjoy his work, there's no denying his contributions to popular culture. Truly an American icon.

What is even sadder (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6956161)

"I just heard some sad news on talk radio - the voice of Captain Murphy, Harry Goz, (link - link) was found dead last week"

What is even sadder is that this "Goz" guy's career was such a failure that no-one ever heard of him until he died.

The problem with standards... (5, Insightful)

epsalon (518482) | about 11 years ago | (#6955978)

... is that there's so many to choose from. The problem is all these micropayment systems don't interconnect with eachother. If I were to sign up with BitPass, I would have to pay $3 even though I need it only for a purchase of $0.25 The same goes for any other micropayment system. I think micropayments should be handled in a decentralized way, all the way from your ISP bill to the target vendor, using so-called "micropayment banks" in the process.

A govenrment endosed system, like paper currency? (1)

turnstyle (588788) | about 11 years ago | (#6956101)

What if there was some sort of governmental 'blessing' -- perhaps similar to paper currency?

Micropayments might be more appealing if managed by 'public trust' rather than 'dot-com.'

I haven't entirely thought it through, but is that better? Worse?

Re:A govenrment endosed system, like paper currenc (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6956137)

On the face of it, government involvement seems like a good idea. However, what about all we non-US citizens? Could we all count on our respective governments to cooperate and allow micropayments to really flourish? Or will 'international' users find themselves unable to access bits of the web?

I'd much rather see the internet community develop a useful standard that can be easily adopted by vendors...perhaps such a thing already exists? A technological solution is always better than a government mandate.

Or how about asking the banks? (2, Insightful)

WegianWarrior (649800) | about 11 years ago | (#6956182)

On the face of it, government involvement seems like a good idea. However, what about all we non-US citizens? Could we all count on our respective governments to cooperate and allow micropayments to really flourish? Or will 'international' users find themselves unable to access bits of the web?
I'd much rather see the internet community develop a useful standard that can be easily adopted by vendors...perhaps such a thing already exists? A technological solution is always better than a government mandate.

Lets face it; over the last few centuries, who is it that has managed to develop several convinient systems for transfering money internationaly - often embracing the latest technology to do so? It's not the various goverments... it's the banks. The banks needed a way to transfer money from one place to another without physicaly moving it, so various system was developed. They even manage to make a profit out of it.

Now, if the banks got their act together and launced a simple to implement system for micropayments - possible just nationwide as a start - I believe that it might take off. As more and more people saw that the system worked, more and more would pick it up; allowing, for instance, slashdot-readers to pay 0.01 cent to the owner of the website we're pounding into rubble, allowing him to pay his ISP for more bandwidth for a limited time. Off course, this could work for pr0n as well, letting you pay for just the pictures / movies you download rather than to pay for all the crap you'll never bother seeing once you realise that all the stuff you just handed over ten bucks for sucks chunks.

Re:A govenrment endosed system, like paper currenc (1)

turnstyle (588788) | about 11 years ago | (#6956304)

"On the face of it, government involvement seems like a good idea. However, what about all we non-US citizens?"

Well, just like (most) other countries don't use the dollar, it seems like each could have it's own micropayment.

Perahps the micropayment value could be hitched to the national currency value, and so the exchange rates would follow between countries, just like regular money does.

Re:The problem with standards... (1)

KjetilK (186133) | about 11 years ago | (#6956123)

I'm glad this was modded so high, because the point is absolutely critical. I think micropayments is a very important development, and I strongly support it, but it won't work before it is removed from the control of single companies. You can't have a single company controlling micropayments, it will lead to all kinds of evil, so you need open specifications, implementable at no cost for anybody. Only then can we make a feasible micropayments system.

Re:The problem with standards... (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about 11 years ago | (#6956265)

It's not just having to pay the $3 up front, it's also the fact that you need to sign up, which is a bother. Already there are sites that ask you to register without payment (NY Times!!), and many of us can't even be arsed to do that.

Many of these people working on micropayments seem to think it's just another way to collect payments for what amounts to a subscription, or a pre-paid content scheme. Most of the current premium sites and micropayment schemes fail to take the occasional visitor into account. I don't want to subscribe to this guy's comics, but I might want to pay, once, to see a single one and them decide if it's worth seeing more. I'd pay a gaming site to download a demo, but the 3 or 4 files per year I download from them do not justify a subscription. I don't want a subscription to the NY times, but I'd pay to read an article every now and then. But I won't pay if it's a subscription or a large-ish up-front payment. Hell, just having to sign up for each of these things in itself would be too much of a bother.

I'm convinced that a micropayment scheme needs to cater to the occasional visitor, in order to be successful. That means:
- It needs to be a single company, or multiple ones that interconnect, like you said. Those of us who browse a wide variety of content at many different sites should not have to sign up with 25 micropayment companies.
- It needs to be easy to use. Besides the signing up, accepting the microcharge itself should be very simple. A simple system dialog should suffice, stating 'You have requested a web page for which the charge is $0,10. Press Yes to accept the charge and proceed, or No to cancel'. One click to accept the charge, no more. Certainly not a 'type your username, password, date of birth, favorite pets name and your 25 digit MicroPay ID, to access this webpage'.
- Some people will probably want a proper bill, not just a single charge each month on their CC.

Microfraud (5, Insightful)

nacturation (646836) | about 11 years ago | (#6955981)

If micropayments ever become ubiquitous, I think we'll start seeing the old "salami slicing" hack again. When a lot of stuff you do online costs a nickel here, a penny there, a dime elsewhere... you can rack of some pretty serious numbers of transactions just browsing around. After all, if loading that New York Times article linked to from Slashdot is only 2 cents, who cares, right?

But perhaps some clever fraudster will see an opportunity here. Wouldn't it be easy to steal 1 cent a month from 1,000,000 people who use micropayments? After all, who's going to notice a line item titled "News article ----- $0.01"? So there's $10,000/month that nobody's really going to miss.

And for a single penny, would most people take the time to make a phone call or write an email to request clarification on where that charge originated? Even if all you make is a pitiful $3.60/hour, that one penny takes a mere 6 seconds to earn, far shorter than the time it would take to investigate. And is the micropayment company going to investigate your 1 cent dispute? Likely they would ignore you or even just automatically refund your penny without much thought.

Re:Microfraud (3, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | about 11 years ago | (#6956063)

Correct! I did the sums on this a while back, and at $0.01 per transaction, you don't have much room for things to go wrong. You need a lot of transactions to amortise your fixed costs, which means a few big micropayment services rather than many small ones. Once you figure a crack for one of the big payment services, you can cream it pretty much at will, because as you so rightly point out, the cost of investigating any given transaction vastly outweighs the cost of the transaction.

You'd need about 10,000 transactions from one source before it's worth taking action, but then the question becomes: how much do you spend to find and associate those 10,000 fraudulent transactions? The only real strategy is to ignore all but the most blatant and clumsy fraud, but then it's simply a question of whether you can cover your fixed costs while being bled slowly to death.

MIcropayments are based on trust, and that's in pretty short supply online.

Re:Microfraud (1)

Mr. Piddle (567882) | about 11 years ago | (#6956811)

MIcropayments are based on trust, and that's in pretty short supply online.

If you used a distributed trust mechanism (not Passport!) that authenticated both buyer and seller, perhaps a sufficient paper trail can be established so that persistent fraud can be more easily detected. I wonder if this would ultimately result in micropayment systems becoming part of a credit-reporting system like we have for credit cards & loans, where buyers and sellers can set thresholds to prevent transactions with "bad apples".

If instead of "News article ----- $0.01" it said "News Article, Jack the Ripper Rip-off Artist, 100 Elm St., Calgary, New Mexico -- $0.01", then things could be better for the buyer. Anonymity is not expected in other business transactions, so micropayments should be held to no lower a standard simply because they are small.

Re:Microfraud (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | about 11 years ago | (#6957236)

The problem is that even keeping records of your transactions has a fixed cost per transaction, and at $0.01 per transaction, you don't have a lot of leeway to do that.

Re:Microfraud (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6956405)

> Even if all you make is a pitiful $3.60/hour, that one penny takes a mere 6 seconds

You mean... 6 minutes!

This validates Clay Shirky's point... when talking about very small sums of money, you easily make wrong calculations of its value. And I'm the first to notice this, the others just nodded and made the comment +5, Insightful.

Re:Microfraud (1)

poge (678298) | about 11 years ago | (#6957699)

Umm... actually I make it 10 seconds? Still, it validates Clay Shirkey's point even more, I guess.

Re:Microfraud (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6957818)

Can you explain how you got that number?

Here's how I calculated it:
$3.60 per hour means 360 cents per hour (1 dollar = 100 cents). Divide 360 by 60 (60 minutes in an hour), and you get: 360/6 = 6 cents per minute.

Re:Microfraud (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6957828)

That should be 360/60 of course, my fault :-)

Re: People with really poor math skills (1)

some guy I know (229718) | about 11 years ago | (#6957972)

I don't know where all of you math geniuses went to school, but where I'm from:
  • 1 hour = 60 minutes = 3600 seconds
  • $3.60 = 360 cents
  • 3600 seconds / 360 cents = 10 seconds / cent
Therefore, the one penny takes 10 seconds.
So neither of you were right, but the OP was closer.

Re: People with really poor math skills (1)

nacturation (646836) | about 11 years ago | (#6958456)

Therefore, the one penny takes 10 seconds.
So neither of you were right, but the OP was closer.

See how easy it is? I defrauded hundreds of intelligent slashdotters out of 4 seconds and only one person realized it.

Fame vs. Fortune (4, Interesting)

heironymouscoward (683461) | about 11 years ago | (#6955993)

The article is spot-on, for specific kinds of content, but I think its conclusions are wrong.

Clearly no-one will pay even a dime for content that they can get elsewhere for free. It's true that the size of the payment is less important than its simple presence.

But there are other things we happily pay for, and micropayments are a basic necessity if we want to get those things digitised and available on-line.

In Belgium, where I am, people are using premium SMS messages for micropayments. It's incredibly inefficient: a Euro1.00 message returns at most 60% to the website owner. Yet this is becoming a more and more popular way of charging for access to dating sites and other web sites people are happy, eager even, to pay for.

Micropayments to reserve parking spaces, to place small ads, to search for appartments, to post a CV to a job site, to chat with remote friends, to get news on what's happening downtown, to vote for pop starts, to play games, to access porn,... the horizons are vast and limited today only by the complexity of linking the consumer's wallet and the vendor's account.

What's missing in the micropayment world are two things, AFAICS. One is government support to mandate norms and standards backed up with legislation and consumer/supplier protection. Two is support from the banking industry in the form of accessible implementations available to small vendors.

Re:Fame vs. Fortune (1)

Muggins the Mad (27719) | about 11 years ago | (#6956088)

Clearly no-one will pay even a dime for content that they can get elsewhere for free.

I think that depends on what you mean by "free". For example, I don't consider my time and effort to be worth nothing. Maybe all the hassle of clicking on a "pay 15c" button is more useful to me than 20 minutes spend poring through search engine results?

If I'm downloading a large piece of software, for example, I likely would pay 10c if it meant I'd get a faster download.

Or webcomics... there are free ones, and there are pay ones. That doesn't mean the free ones are the same as the pay ones. Different comics. And if the artist want 15c for his troubles, that's absolutely fine by me.

I have no problem handing over lots of small amounts of cash if it improves things for me.

What's missing in the micropayment world are two things, AFAICS. One is government support to mandate norms and standards backed up with legislation and consumer/supplier protection.

Perhaps I'm biased by not living in the US, but *which* government?

And what kind of new laws and standards would be needed?

Two is support from the banking industry in the form of accessible implementations available to small vendors.

Why does it need to be the banking industry? What's wrong with many small independent vendors offering services to providers and consumers? With a standard protocol (w3c anyone?), consumers could choose "wallet providers" based on preference and features. Paypal was hardly a huge financial institute when they started, and as far as I can see they seem to be doing fine. (perhaps need a bit of competition though)

- Muggins the Mad

Re:Fame vs. Fortune (1)

LucVdB (64664) | about 11 years ago | (#6958103)

It's incredibly inefficient: a Euro1.00 message returns at most 60% to the website owner.

I looked up some price quotes - e.g. this PDF about mBlox premium SMS services [] . 600 Euro setup, about 400 Euro rent per month, and payout rates as low as 1 cent on a 25 cent message... ugh. The best payout is 38 cent on a 1 euro message.

Clay makes some good points there... (2, Interesting)

LinuxMan (3590) | about 11 years ago | (#6955996)

I don't think I have ever subscribed to online content where I had to pay money. Another thing I don't do, which Clay mentioned in his article, is sign up to the people who force you to fill out their questioneers [] to read their content. I have definitely found that I can find the information through Google [] via Usenet which, despite people claiming is dead or whatever, is a very good resource for many types of info, including world events in which the posters themselves might be taking part in. So being an average consumer myself, his words ring very true to me.

Zen []

Re:Clay makes some good points there... (1)

epsalon (518482) | about 11 years ago | (#6956158)

Right On! I would never pay money for content I can have for free. It's just plain stu... just a second, what's that star [] next to my nick mean? Oh, nevermind.

As mentioned above [] , voluntary payments with or without small bonuses are a way to go. I subscribe to SlashDot and I dontate to the operators of a free website I browse regularly.

Re:Clay makes some good points there... (1)

schon (31600) | about 11 years ago | (#6957523)

I would never pay money for content I can have for free. It's just plain stu... just a second, what's that star next to my nick mean? Oh, nevermind.

Someone forced you to pay to read /.?

Here's the post you were replying to:

I don't think I have ever subscribed to online content where I had to pay money.

If you read Clay's article, you'll see that you're making his point for him.

OT: Problems with mozillabird? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6956003)

Slashdot has recently been warning mozillabird users about some incompitbillites in the site. It is due to the fact the the gecko engine has a serious bug that allows slashdot to break.

Here is a screenshot of the warning [] . Does anybody else have this problem, or is my version of mozillabird (13/9 CVS) just broken?

Re:OT: Problems with mozillabird? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6956011)

I call bullshit

A missing point (5, Interesting)

JanneM (7445) | about 11 years ago | (#6956021)

A point in the MIT piece shows that they do not really understand what they are talking about. They say:

"A micropayment system like BitPass would allow consumers to experiment with new content but also to place their support behind specific artists whose work they find consistently rewarding and interesting. Ultimately, they are paying for only the content they consume--and not shelling out a fixed sum every month."

In other words, they see pay-as-you-go as a benefit to the consumer. Problem is, the consumer does not view it as a benefit; rather the opposite.

A number of studies have shown that people greatly prefer a fixed-cost structure over use-based payment - even when they demonstrably would save significant amounts of money by switching over. People find the need to constantly decide whether a given use is worth the money; and to feel they constantly have to monitor and aveluate their usage spending to be a burden that is disproportionate to the amount of money they would save, even when the amount is quite significant.

I know that the most liberating aspect for me of going for a fixed line, rather than using a modem, was not the speed, but rather the liberation of being online at all times, using it whenever I wanted without worrying about telephone charges (local calls are metered in most of Europe).

So, no, I do not really believe in "micropayments" in the sense they are talking about it here.

Re:A missing point (1)

Muggins the Mad (27719) | about 11 years ago | (#6956183)

In other words, they see pay-as-you-go as a benefit to the consumer. Problem is, the consumer does not view it as a benefit; rather the opposite.

Which consumer? I see pay-as-you-go as beneficial in many, although not all, situations.

A number of studies have shown that people greatly prefer a fixed-cost structure over use-based payment - even when they demonstrably would save significant amounts of money by switching over.

So when you go out to dinner you always go to the same restaurant where you pay a yearly subscription?

Or when you buy a soft drink or a chocolate bar you don't pay anything because you have a monthly subscription to Cadbury and Pepsico ?

Or when you catch an occasional ferry to visit some friends, you don't have the hassle of fiddling with coins because you have an annual season ticket?

Where is the fundamental difference between those things, and buying an occasional online comic issue?

- Muggins the Mad

Re:A missing point (2, Insightful)

rollingcalf (605357) | about 11 years ago | (#6956528)

Going to dinner, buying a chocolate bar or taking a ferry are transactions that are big enough in size that the price of the actual item itself dwarfs the mental transaction costs. It's generally not a big bother to spend 25 cents of mental time and effort on deciding whether to buy a $15 dinner or $2 comic book, but when it's 10 cents of time and effort to decide whether a 1-cent article or web page is worth it, it becomes very discouraging to the customer.

Re:A missing point (1)

Tim Tylor (704011) | about 11 years ago | (#6958489)

Personally, I don't sweat blood over one cent. At that price, if it looks remotely interesting I'll risk it.

Re:A missing point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6958660)

if it looks remotely interesting I'll risk it.

Thank you for proving Rollingcalf's point for him.

Re:A missing point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6956698)

In other words, they see pay-as-you-go as a benefit to the consumer. Problem is, the consumer does not view it as a benefit; rather the opposite

This is actually one of those more subtle issues dividing the USA from Europe. There are many studies out there which have shown that in the USA pay-as-you-go is preferred - Americans not wishing to feel like they are paying more than is necessary - but that in Europe the opposite is true and subscription is preferred - Europeans like to have a reasonably fixed outgoings for their monthly budget and feel they are benefiting from discounts for regular payment.

This is obviously a sweeping generalisation but holds for a lot of regular products and services.

Some other places talking about it... (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6956038)

Lots of websites and blogs have picked up on this...

Metafilter []
Les Jones []
Bruce Landon - landonline []
City Comforts Blog []
Marginal Revolution []
Long story; short pier []
Tom Maszerowski on Livejournal [] []

IMNSHO (2, Insightful)

The Famous Brett Wat (12688) | about 11 years ago | (#6956041)

A good mechanism for micropayments would be a good thing, in and of itself, although I won't venture into the tricky area of what counts as "good" in a micropayment system. The mixed results of PayPal to date demonstrate the two-edged nature of a system for managing payments where the custodians of the money are, arguably, a little under-accountable.

But cutting to the chase, if a good micropayment system does get invented, then it will seriously lower the bar on the "tip jar" concept. The overhead of deciding whether you want to spend a cent here and a cent there (especially on a site that you can't sample for free) is enough of a headache (even at low risk levels) to drive people away, but if your favourite webcomic has a tip jar, you might throw in a dime a day, or even a penny a day (he said, shamelessly resorting to Americanisms). Those things can add up if you have a big readership, and can overcome the expenses that Mr McCloud points out with regards to bandwidth and success being its own worst enemy.

As for the sites that want to try the "you must pay me 25 cents in order to see this page" approach -- feh -- let them take their chances with the free market; I won't resent them in the unlikely case that it works. But in my not-particularly-humble opinion, voluntary payments [] will be the way to go (see second and second-last paragraph of linked Cringely article).


neillewis (137544) | about 11 years ago | (#6956217)

I'm glad I'm not he only one who feels a sense of unease about the whole PayPal concept. Even Amazon, probably the most widely trusted brand for online payments has made big mistakes in how it reassures its customers and deals with their transactions.

I can't see micropayments ever working better than a subscription model for serial long term opt in, and if there's a free site/list I like I'm going to be a lot happier occasionally buying a tshirt, piece of software, a mug, CD, picture or book to show my appreciation.


Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6957222)

or even a penny a day (he said, shamelessly resorting to Americanisms).

Surely a penny is an English coin, not an American one? The closest thing an American would have would be a cent.

Well I signed up... (1, Insightful)

skizz (9994) | about 11 years ago | (#6956070)

McCloud makes the point that no-one is going to pay for Joe Random Blogger's thoughts, But they will pay 25c to an artist who they know will give good value. 10 million iTune users can't be wrong.

Personally I'd rather pay 25c to give a site a try than give away my credit card details and subscribe for a year to a site I might never read.

And you can join BitPass using PayPal - so its hardly difficult. And yes I have. And yes it is worth 25c.

Beyond PayPal? (1)

sirmob (701496) | about 11 years ago | (#6957429)

you can join BitPass using PayPal - so it's hardly difficult

Even though a BitPass keeps you from having to give your credit card information, you still have to pay with a credit card OR with PayPal, and you still have to give information you may not want to give to PayPal. Bottom line - at some point you have to give someone information you don't want to give them.

I think the only way this will ever work is if you can actually BUY a BitPass at (insert omnipresent retail outlet here). If a BitPass were like a disposable calling card, I would think it would actually bring the mental cost down, the registration wouldn't be a hassle, and there would be no sneaking suspicion that this was all being tracked by some marketing company.

Cost-free digital publishing (2, Interesting)

Liselle (684663) | about 11 years ago | (#6956078)

From the article: [I]Analog publishing generates per-unit costs -- each book or magazine requires a certain amount of paper and ink, and creates storage and transportation costs. Digital publishing doesn't. Once you have a computer and internet access, you can post one weblog entry or one hundred, for ten readers or ten thousand, without paying anything per post or per reader. In fact, dividing up front costs by the number of readers means that content gets cheaper as it gets more popular, the opposite of analog regimes. [/I] Does this person think that web hosting and bandwidth are free? The reality is completely the opposite if you look at things like webcomics, where popularity will literally bankrupt the artist, as they gain too much traffic to live in free webspace.

Re:Cost-free digital publishing (1)

Liselle (684663) | about 11 years ago | (#6956083)

If there is a mistake...well, you should have used the 'Preview' button!

Ahh, Slashdot, I should have listened to you. :P


poptones (653660) | about 11 years ago | (#6956188)

Kazaa... morpheus... freenet... usenet...

Especially for a comic artist, where the content is inherently visual, it would NOT be hard to adopt a distribution mechanism that was, essentially, free. Put a panel on every comic linking to the author's site: those who like the content will visit, those who don't, won't. Put up a tipjar, or even offer an "early bird" subscription service (ie get the next edition a week before the "free" channels, etc.). Because casual fans can get the comic completely free of charge to the author, the website traffic will be comprised of people who are predisposed to contribute. Ergo, those "hits" are actually worth more to the author than would be otherwise.

Re:Cost-free digital publishing (1)

Yartrebo (690383) | about 11 years ago | (#6957134)

It isn't necessarily cost free, but it can be VERY low cost.

You don't need graphics or javascripts or a shitload of meta tags.

The article itself doesn't take much (maybe 1000-2000 bytes for a 500-word article using embedded gzip). The sidebar or links don't take that much either (use plain HTML, and keep paths reasonably short).

All in all, 2,500 bytes might be used per hit, so you could serve 400,000 hits/GB. I'll assume web bandwidth is $1/GB, which would put the cost of a hit at 2.5 u$ (microdollar, or 1/1000000 dollars). Banner ads pay about 8 CPM, or about 80 u$ per hit.

Even if no graphics would't work out well, you can stuff up to about 80kB of stuff per article and still break even.

Perhaps if people reduced the cruft in their HTML and kept graphics to a minimum, the bandwidth load would be kept quite modest.

micropayments (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6956081)

Hey why don't we tie these micropayments into the web surfing license and your bank acount and a new and revamped new total information awareness system..... that way both industry and government will be able to track my spending and reading habits - it's certain to catch a few terrorists and pedophiles well worth the risk hey!

I mean, I trust people like Ashcroft with this, after all he even let me see his staffers "anti-terrorism" certified university degree (no real unis would recognise his "life experience" but they certified her).


You know, the thing that scares me the most isn't all the potential of that technology..... it's that I felt I had to include a sarcasm tag because people wouldn't get it. That says alot about current political climates, that's what f*cking scares me.

Art IS a commodity (3, Insightful)

Pflipp (130638) | about 11 years ago | (#6956084)

Being an "artist" myself, and even having vague plans at earning my money with this after my (unrelated) study, I'm afraid I must disagree with McCloud saying that art isn't a commodity.

Funny though that has a rather interesting definition [] of the word "commodity" with relation to McCloud's comments, but I'm sure that McCloud tries to say that a commodity is "something that you can just take for granted".

We may not realize this, but our "modern" culture, like any other culture before it, relies on the availability of the art that underwrites it. Belonging to a culture is still something that is expressed through music, art, fashion and religion. People don't like restricted access to culture. Music, cartoons, whatever art it is that you like, it becomes part of your life, and part of your culture. (Striking example: how many `80's songs do you like to hear, while you agree at the same time that they suck -- just because you grew up in the `80's and you can share something with your friends through this music?)

Life, even in our Western world, would not be so nice if we all threw out our stereos, radios, comic strips, TV's, bioscopes, monuments and ALL other ways in which we access art, and thus culture.

Art is a gift to culture, and should thus be a gift to the people. Like anyone else, artists should make a living. They should definately find some way to calculate their hours of work into their products. But the art should be free for all of us willing to enjoy and extend it (bar stuff like trademarks that put some structure in the "development process" of our art).

Now get out there and start making business models again! ;-)

Donations (1)

bnet41 (591930) | about 11 years ago | (#6956090)

I am curious, does anyone know how much some of these programs that solicit donations make a year? I have seen a few fail, who had this system in place. I know DeadAIM went to a forced donation system, because they weren't getting enough. They seemed very open about this fact. I know probably close to 50 people who have spybot, and would never think to donate. I think the tech people who are aware of the things these people go through to make these programs do donate. The general public though doesn't, and they are the one's who use the majority of these resources. It would suprise me if many of these projects made enough to cover their hosting costs, let alone enough to quit their job, and make some good money.

Micropayments are already successful (2, Insightful)

heironymouscoward (683461) | about 11 years ago | (#6956095)

One only has to look at the Internet adult entertainment industry to see that micropayments are already a working solution.

People will pay for content if it's something they actually want. Micropayments using a prepaid scheme are much more attractive than conventional credit-card systems because they are (a) anonymous, (b) transferrable, and (c) cheap.

I think the discussion in the article is entirely skewed because the author looks only at conventional content, and even a cursory look at the Internet demonstrates that supply far outweighs demand: there is an almost inexhaustible supply of prose, music, humour, and news. Why would you register for such content, let alone pay for it?

Basic economics: make something people want, and can't get elsewhere, and they will come and pay for it.

Blaming the payments scheme for weak products that no-one wants is surely a mistake.

Anonymity (1)

poptones (653660) | about 11 years ago | (#6956238)

Name one online payment system that is anonymous in the same way as me throwing a dollar bill into an open window is anonymous.

These systems are absolutely not anonymous. Most payment systems require affiliation with either a bank or a credit agency, which means every single purchase can be tracked.

I think the discussion in the article is entirely skewed because the author looks only at conventional content, and even a cursory look at the Internet demonstrates that supply far outweighs demand: there is an almost inexhaustible supply of prose, music, humour, and news. Why would you register for such content, let alone pay for it?

And you hold up porn as an example to counter this? The level posted to usenet [] seems to be down the last month or two, but there still has to be at least as much "free" porn out there as "free" music.

Let's talk Suze: there are two newsgroups dedicated to posting her work. If you're a patient sort you could accumulate every photo she's ever taken and it won't cost a dime. But now, years after the first works went online, Suze still manages to sell memberships to her site. You think the only ones who are buying memberships are those wanting to rip the entire site and are too impatient to wait for everything to be posted to the "free" channels?

TWO newsgroups? (1)

heironymouscoward (683461) | about 11 years ago | (#6957759)

Dang, I must recheck my systems. No wonder I've been starved of Suzeware recently.

But seriously, your point is well taken. However, newsnet only serves porn to a select market, namely geeks, while there is a huge population of one-handed surfers out there who would not know a uuencoded jpeg if it hit them on the ass.

Also, I have seen several adult pass systems that sell in nightshops, and this is entirely, totally anonymous. Buy a token in a shop, use it to micropurchase. And AFAICS it's only for porn.

As usual, if you want a good preview of technological directions, the adult entertainment market is a great place to start.

Just wish it was tax deductable...

pay for a link? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6956103)

pay for a link? never!
if they sucside, i'll trash my computer and apply for a library card, thank you very much.

Without real e-currency it's all speculation (1)

ahfoo (223186) | about 11 years ago | (#6956105)

Whether micropayments can work, or even defining what a micropayment is, seems a bit besides the point when we don't have e-currency.
When I use the term "currency" I don't mean some private company's wishful thinking about taking over the job of the federal government. Anybody who thinks that the establishment of the currency is not the job of the federal government and can be left to Citibank or Banc America has a very limited grasp of the Constitution. And as for some Johnny-come-lately start up issuing the new coin of the realm. Well, it's an ambitious goal, but there are some major obstacles in reality. You might not notice them till you get big enough to attract attention, but they're out there.
So all this speculation about how e-currency will be spent and what will constitute a micrompayment and how the technical details of how the exchange will be handled is jumping the gun. And it's the same thing with any kind of e-commerce. The arguments are all hypothetical until there is a genuine currency.
Traditional retailers depend on compulsive buys in a big way. The very archictecture of retail businesses is organized in a fashion that will promote compusive shopping to the greatest extent possible. In this sense, micropayments already exist, work and can even be considered essential to business. What does not exist is e-currency issued and backed by a government.

Re:Without real e-currency it's all speculation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6956373)

And I don't think you are going to see any modern government issue any true e-currency (digital cash) any time soon.

They are all scared of non-traceable transactions and the people are scared of traceable transactions, or they should be. Actually, traceable transactions are not so bad when non-traceable transactions are an option.

So there you are. But where are we?

A Nony Mouse

micropayments -- not good for consumers (2)

vnv (650942) | about 11 years ago | (#6956126)

Virtually every major consumer service provider is moving towards flat rate pricing. It is far simpler for the service provider and far simpler for the consumer. Not only is it simpler, it is also cheaper. The service provider saves a lot of money on billing which is priced as a function of complexity. Flat rate packages provide a great value for the consumer and also simplify the consumer's finances. There is good reason that millions of consumers are moving to flat rate service providers.

As a micropayment system is complex and costs a tremendous amount of money to implement, staff, and maintain, the consumer can expect costs to be higher when using this sort of system. I might add for emphasis that only a fool would think the higher costs are not going to be passed on to the consumer. Not to mention that the consumer now has to track their own actions on a minute scale that will take lots of time. Imagine instead of having one "pay per view" system to keep track of, you now have 17 "click per view" systems to worry about. It is like every channel on your satellite TV having its own pay-per-view system and account. It's not something many people would willingly sign up for, that's for sure.

So why do some companies want to buck the big flat rate trend in consumer pricing and create high complexity micropayment systems?

The answer is simple -- they want your money. With micropayments, a service provider gets your money up front, gets to keep your money in an account which generates float revenue, and is in the superb position of forcing the consumer to spend the money on potentially uninteresting things in order for the consumer to feel the money is not being wasted. Many micropayment systems have no way of getting your money out.

However, the biggest reason companies are pushing micropayments is that if they can shift the consumer's expectations to think "every time I do any little thing, I am going to pay", it will be a giant door opening to much higher prices for everything you do in life.

Check your ATM balance? Costs money. Press play three times on that song vs. once, costs extra money. The list will be endless. Micropayments are also a way to do an end run around "try before you buy". Instead of free song samples or free content samples, you'll be told "don't worry, it's micropayments."

The major banks have done large computer simulations and they have found they can make far more money using hard to understand variable cost transaction fees than they can using any sort of flat rate fee model. Now the banks are even more clever in that they combine the best of both worlds -- they package up seldom used services and charge a flat fee and then take more commonly used services and charge the variable rate transaction fee. Of course merchants will copy the banking system models and implement fee-based pricing that also allows you to go into negative dollars, so you will owe money. And don't forget the "micropayment account overdraft fee". Which will not be a micropayment, I guarantee you.

The heart of the matter is that micropayment systems are driven by greed. They are not driven by any desire to deliver value to the consumer. They are created to force a complex intermediary between the consumer and the service provider. The costs of this intermediary are significant and they are passed on to the consumer. The economic models that drive micropayments favor maximizing profits for the service provider.

All in all, micropayments are abuse waiting to happen. Consumers have avoided them like the plague for good reason. Though it's hard to believe, consumers want to hold on to their money. Pricing model studies have shown that they are tired of getting nickel and dimed to death. Consumers want clear value and the peace of mind that they can use a resource without the worry of variable fees sneaking up and biting them. No one has the discretionary money or discretionary time anymore to worry about the complexity of adding many new payment systems -- neither consumers nor service providers. Maybe one day in the future, micropayments will make sense. But I don't think that day is today.

Re:micropayments -- not good for consumers (1)

azaris (699901) | about 11 years ago | (#6956146)

Flat rate packages provide a great value for the consumer and also simplify the consumer's finances. There is good reason that millions of consumers are moving to flat rate service providers.

Not all of them - I had a good chuckle some time ago when a local Internet provider/media company launched their offer of rated dialup without a fixed fee. Their reasoning was that people hate paying monthly fees and would rather pay-per-use, something, against which I as an ex-dialup and ISDN user can testify!

The Problem - New Visitors (2, Insightful)

CGP314 (672613) | about 11 years ago | (#6956130)

Micropayments, small digital payments of between a quarter and a fraction of a penny, made (yet another) appearance this summer with Scott McCloud's online comic, The Right Number, accompanied by predictions of a rosy future for micropayments.

To read The Right Number, you have to sign up for the BitPass micropayment system; once you have an account, the comic itself costs 25 cents.

Right there. Did you see that? That's the problem with micropayments.

I don't know this guy and I don't know his comics. Why am I going to hand him a quarter to read his stuff?

Sure, if he is already established in his niche on the 'net, he can make a good living. But, if you are just starting our, micropayments will guarantee the death of your site. No one will pay for a site, um, sight unseen.

I'd love for people to pay a penny to read my weekly London Journal [] , but I know if I asked for it first, I would never get any new visitors.

Re:The Problem - New Visitors (1)

33degrees (683256) | about 11 years ago | (#6957574)

The answer to that is simple; you offer a selection of content, some of it for free and some of it your pay for. In the case of Scott McCloud, he has a LOT of comics already available for free, so you get a good idea his work before paying for anything. Most other webcomic artist who are (or are considering) charging for content are doing the same.

I also think that micropayments are usefull for providing higher quality versions of media that is already available for free; higher res comics, or higher bitrate/lossless music.

No mention of privacy (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6956136)

The total invasion of privacy inherent in the micro payment model is beyond belief. A micro payment record of each and every place you go or document you read etc. The ability to profile people to this degree is the dreams and aspirations of those who would have a totalitarian state.
Unless they can figure out how to deduct micropayments from a phone card or some other device that can be bought locally for cash over the counter, they better nix that idea but quick. Come to think of it, there's no good reason to give out a persons whole credit card information or even their name for that matter for anything viewed or downloaded directy from the internet. Identity theft or credit card fraud can't happen to you if you never give out that information. No computer system administrator in their right mind would surf the internet with their "ROOT" account so why do we all make purchases on the internet with our "ROOT" credit card accounts. We need cash user account cards for our credit cards or prepaid Visa or Master card debit cards. Then figure out how to use micro payments with them. First things first.

There is no right to privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6956154)

There is no Constitutional right to privacy, in reality. Maybe that is why this "right" gets endangered so much: it doesn't exist.

I think it should exist, and we should get a Constitutional amendment (as long as it does not include violence against other human beings as a "private" act.). Until then, this right does not exist.

Re:There is no right to privacy (1)

Noren (605012) | about 11 years ago | (#6957788)

The fact that a right is not enumerated in the Constitution does not [] mean that it doesn't exist.

No, there is none (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6957799)

"The fact that a right is not enumerated in the Constitution does not mean that it doesn't exist."

It certainly does mean that there is no Constitutional right to privacy. The 9th Amendment is so vague: what of a "right to security"? It is just as much there as a "right to privacy".

No, it is not there. The only way to get it there is by amendment.

Re:No mention of privacy (1)

BrianMarshall (704425) | about 11 years ago | (#6957798)

What?! The guy bought fertilizer and electic wire on the same day, AND the guy owns a diesel powered car? The only known use for fertilzer and electic wire by people with access to diesel oil is.... Oh my God!! Off to Cuba!

Micro-interest (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6956145)

I have micro-interest in micro-payments. This is an idea that belongs on the ash-heap of computerdom along with Flooz.

The power of feeling good (2)

poptones (653660) | about 11 years ago | (#6956163)

I don't believe either of these articles really hit the nail so much as the pessimists view of micropayments did. The micropayment system itself is still something of a nuisance and even anathema to many people who (still very much) believe in information being free. Charging for content - even just a penny - presents a barrier that goes far deeper in our society than the visible cost.

If you are walking down the stret and someone asks you for a penny, would you always give it to them? Every time? It's just a penny - if you saw a penny lying in the street odds are you wouldn't even bother to pick it up, unless perhaps to feed your superstitious side. Maybe we ordinarily would but have already given out all the pennies we had in our pocket. Maybe we have an ethical objection to handing out pennies to whomever asks for one. Or maybe we're just having a bad day and don't want to be bothered. Still, one can reasonable argue the simple act of giving someone a penny should be well within the capabilities of even the poorest of us.

But once you move online that penny represents an entirely new barrier. It represents the wall between those who play the system (however badly) and those played by the system. Not everyone has a credit card. Not everyone has a debit card. Furthermore, many people, despite the fact they could have one of these wallet size icons of mass consumerism, don't want one. And it's not because they don't like buying stuff, or because they're too cheap to give you a penny if you were to ask them face to face.

Charging for content online places a barrier between the creator and the audience that goes much deeper than the same model in meatspace. And it's not necessarily an economic one, although it very much can be. Mostly, tho, it's a barrier of philosophy, and it sets the wrong tone for the future so many of us allege to believe in.

The entire promise of this new distribution mechanism is it puts creators more directly in touch with consumers. That some creators are going to work within existing economic structures is to be expected and, frankly, I say more power to'em. But this is a choice for the creator that does not directly involve me: if someone puts banner ads on their site to help them pay the bills, that involves me only passively. Moving to an escrow agent, however, forces the consumer (me) to play an active role in that exchange - even when "it's just a penny" and even when the mechanism is "transparent" at the point of sale.

Re:The power of feeling good (1)

Muggins the Mad (27719) | about 11 years ago | (#6956198)

Not everyone has a credit card. Not everyone has a debit card. Furthermore, many people, despite the fact they could have one of these wallet size icons of mass consumerism, don't want one.

Then use a micropayment service that doesn't require one. Perhaps your ISP could offer one? Or maybe your Telco, Bank, University, anyone who you're already paying for services could, and just add it to your bill. Maybe you could buy $5 prepay micropayment cards at the gas station...

- Muggins the Mad

la machine (1)

poptones (653660) | about 11 years ago | (#6956256)

You be sure to let us know when an anonymous micropayment system arises from the froth, won't you?

Where would micropayments end? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6956169)

If this succeeded for the Internet, where would it end?

Just consider the idea of surfing applied to the physical world.

Imagine some sort of transceiver device in your automobile which automatically charges micropayment tolls just for going down certain roads.

Re:Where would micropayments end? (1)

JR (87651) | about 11 years ago | (#6958311)

Imagine some sort of transceiver device in your automobile which automaticaly changes micropayment tolls just for going down certain roads.

I take it you mean something like this proposal [] or this item [] that were recently put forth in the UK?

Good stuff? (2, Insightful)

CGP314 (672613) | about 11 years ago | (#6956187)

In fact, the good stuff is becoming easier to find as the size of the system grows, not harder, because collaborative filters like Google and Technorati rely on rich link structure to sort through links.

I disagree. If I type in 'good weblogs' to google, I still get a bunch of crap I'm not interested in. Why? Because my idea of a good weblog doesn't necessarily match up with everyone else's.

responses to va lairIE on pateNTdead PostBlock(tm) (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6956195)

devise. it would reek of corepirate nazi censorship to US, if it worked at all.

coming soon to/already on, yOUR desktop/network?:

Due to excessive bad posting from this IP or Subnet, comment posting has temporarily (permanently, if we could figure out how to do it) been disabled. If it's you, consider this a chance to sit in the timeout corner. If it's someone else, this is a chance to hunt them down. If you think this is unfair, we don't care.

alert: you've been lax in yOUR payper liesense 'upgrades', you're out.

alert: there's a rumour that you've been badmouthing/lowrating the corepirate nazis, & the naykid furor of the felonious kingdumb, you're out.

alert: looks like yOUR kids have been listening to music again, you're out.

alert: although you appear to be browsing regularly, you've failed to make a purchase recently, you're out.

consider this a chance to stare at your monitor screen, & plan how you can become .compliant. if you think that you are already compliant, & it's somebody else, consider this a chance to rat them out, to gain re-admission to the onLIEn wwwhirled again, (c SourceForgerIE(tm) all rights reserved, you have none).

etc... lookout bullow. these foulcurrs haven't a clue yet, as to what J. Public can do, once he's peaced off. they live in a tiny wwworld, consisting of only their owned greed/fear based goals. they should get ready to see the light.

we're building a vessel that floats on almost any suBStance.

as to the newclear power/planet/population rescue initiative:

it's all free (as in survival), & available immediately to you/all of US.

as you can maybe already see, yOUR survival/success is not the least bit dependent on the gadgets/combinations of the greed/fear based corepirate nazis, & their phonIE ?pr? ?firm? buyassed /.puppets.

consult with/trust in yOUR creator. more breathing. vote with yOUR wallet (somtimes that means not buying anything, a notion previously unmentioned buy the greed/fear/war mongers). seek others of non-aggressive/positive behaviours/intentions. stop wasting anything/being frivolous. that's the spirit.

investigate the newclear power plan. J. Public et AL has yet to become involved in open/honest 'net communications/commerce in a meaningful way. that's mostly due to the MiSinformation suppLIEd buy phonIE ?pr? ?firm?/stock markup FraUD execrable, etc...

truth is, there's no better/more affordable/effective way that we know of, for J. to reach other J.'s &/or their respective markets.

the overbullowned greed/fear based phonIE marketeers are self eliminating by their owned greed/fear/ego based evile MiSintentions. they must deny the existence of the power that is dissolving their ability to continue their self-centered evile behaviours.

as the lights continue to come up, you'll see what we mean. meanwhile, there are plenty of challenges, not the least of which is the planet/population rescue (from the corepirate nazi/walking dead contingent) initiative.

EVERYTHING is going to change, despite the lameNT of the evile wons. you can bet your .asp on that. when the lights come up, there'll be no going back, & no where to hide.

we weren't planted here to facilitate/perpetuate the excesses of a handful of Godless felons. you already know that? yOUR ONLY purpose here is to help one another. any other pretense is totally false.

pay attention (to yOUR environment, for example). that's quite affordable, & leads to insights on preserving life as it should/could/will be again. everything's ALL about yOUR motives.

that old tune title (hope we don't get 'busted' for using it) "make the world go away", takes on new/varied meaning in these times.

the prevalent notion that 'everything will be taken care of' without yOUR knowledge/participation is insidiously misleading.

in our estimation, the biggest 'threat' against US (aside from continuing to fire bullinedly into the 'crowd', whilst demanding applause), would be a failure to recognize our 'role' in the problems. we're victims for sure, but whoare ALL the perpetrators (see also: corepirate nazi puppets), gets lost in the ?pr? ?firm? generated propaganda spew.

consult with/trust in yOUR creator. seek others of non-aggressive behaviours/intentions. that's the spirit.

the lights ARE coming up now. pay attention (to yOUR heart, for example). that could lead to new ways (see also: newclear power plan) of thinking about/dealing with, the needs/rights of others EVERYWHERE on the planet.

having the attention span of a gnat, & similar ambitions, might be ok if you are just planning to be a consumer/type one liners.

take care of each other, you're all we've got. we're here for you. get ready to see the light.--

worth reading, again, with feeling.

"It takes a long time to teach the judges, legislators, and public to understand technology. Right now, they're getting a strong dose of "education" on the Internet's threats and harms, and not hearing so much about its potential. Shouts of "piracy" often outweigh consideration of how we might communicate with more open media formats, but judges like Stephen Wilson in the Grokster case are starting to listen through the shouting. We're encouraging more people to think about how the law shapes technological innovation, how the technology itself can foster creativity, and then to do something about it to advance the public interest."--

"The stability of the large world house which is ours will involve a revolution of values to accompany the scientific and freedom revolutions engulfing the earth. We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing"-oriented society to a "person"-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered. A civilization can flounder as readily in the face of moral and spiritual bankruptcy as it can through financial bankruptcy."

Mobile phones are the key to microplayments (2, Informative)

dybdahl (80720) | about 11 years ago | (#6956207)

The key to micropayments is to use existing customer relationships. Mobile phones are a good example - you can buy access to information or services by sending an SMS to a specific phone number. The payment comes onto your phone bill and everybody is happy.

I am currently involves in implementing micropayments for gaming services, and it works great.

You get what you pay for (1)

BenjyD (316700) | about 11 years ago | (#6956343)

It isn't free to produce good content. No, most weblogs don't count as good content. A journalist might charge (say) $500+ for a decent size article. You have to add hosting and bandwidth costs to that - obviously, whatever Shirky says, it's not just as cheap to serve 200,000 pages as it is 1.

Good free content on the internet at the moment is supported basically by advertising. Either directly through banners or google ads, or indirectly, through advertising some offline publication or organisation. Newspapers reprint stuff online as they have already paid the cost to have it written, so they might as well get some advertising online.

At present CPM rates, without some other (offline) form of support, you need a lot of page impressions to break even. $8/CPM/page? Thats 70,000 page impressions or so to start making money, and you're squeezing the article in around 4 banners.

So, in order to make money the sites need alternatives. Split the article over five pages instead of one - sure, it annoys the reader, but we get more page impressions per reader. Add more intrusive advertising - pop-ups, style ads? Again, annoys the reader, but more money.

Annoying readers isn't a good long-term business plan.

So, charge subscriptions? This puts a huge mental barrier in the way of your customers- what if newspapers were only available in 6 month subscription editions? I'd be interested to know how much money Slashdot makes of its 'premium service' subscription system - I hope it works.

So that leaves micropayments as an alternative. I really think there is a chance that they could work, if properly implemented.

Wishful thinking (1)

rudy_wayne (414635) | about 11 years ago | (#6956476)

Nothing personal against Scott McCloud, I wish him the best, but he and other micropayment proponents think micropayments are a good idea for 2 reasons:

1. It's good for them (i.e., they get money)
2. They desperately WANT micropayments to work because it would be good for them
(aka "Wishful Thinking")

A year from now, when BitPass has joined a dozen other companies on the micropayment scrapheap, Scott's wishful thinking will continue to prevent him from recognizing the fundamental flaws that doom micropayments to failure.

Clay Shirkey's pieces on micropayments have their share of flaws, but overall he's done a good job of describing why micropayments don't work.

Prepayment and revenue sharing (1)

rollingcalf (605357) | about 11 years ago | (#6956615)

What is needed is a way to keep the micro-decisions away from the consumer. You should be able to pay one macro fee, say $10/year, which gives you access to a network of participating web sites. Then you visit those web sites as much as you want without worrying about per-article costs, and behind the scenes they work out how they share the revenue. I figure that's how those Adult verification services work.

There would also have to be the option of anonymous transactions, which could be accomplished by purchasing a prepaid card similar to what is done with phone cards.

Of course, there would have to be a small number of such networks otherwise you'll end up paying for dozens of $10/year subscriptions.

subscription or micropayments? (1)

fermion (181285) | about 11 years ago | (#6956795)

I think here again the pundits are rearranging facts to fit their reality.

The question isn't whether we will pay for content: We already are.
By and large most of us do not pay for content. How many of us buy magazines that are supported primarily by subscribers? They do exist, and their sales are marginal.

We tend to pay for the physical item or the name or other costs. Why else would we have no problem paying a dollar for a newspaper, but nothing to get it online.

In others, we may prefer to pay only for the content we want to access. This is not a novel situation; after all, many of us subscribe to some publications and purchase others off the newsstand when a particular issue has content that seems interesting, or when we feel we have time to read them.
True, we will buy a single issue of the magazine, but we do buy the entire issue. We do cut out the six pages of the article, put the magazine back on the shelf, and then ask the store to charge us only for those six pages. A single issue is not micropayments. A single issue is most often way of delivering a demographics to an advertiser If customers started cutting magazines up in stores and took only the ad free pages, I suspect the publishers would be quite unhappy

Similarly, most of us will subscribe to a finite range of Web content--just as most of us subscribe to only a few (if any) premium cable channels.
This is true. The WSJ and NYT presumable has customers for their online subscription services. However, these are not micropay. The /. service is not really micropayment either.

For cable you pay the same for the service no matter how much you use. The exception is pay per view, which is not micropayment. PPV is an additional service in addition for your subscription.

I believe that micropayments are not viable and is a response to a screwed up advertising model created when this web thing got going with ad supported pages. Instead of pushing internet ads as the traditional branding strategy with the added benefit of direct customer connections, the ads were promoted as a way to immediately sell product. The ads were also grossly overpriced and this lead to waste in infrastructure and management(/. pt cruiser? Thousand dollar chairs?). I believe that the web can provide a good value to advertisers, if we would just stop pretending it was a TV or magazine.

Self-observation: I fit Shirky's pattern (1)

dpbsmith (263124) | about 11 years ago | (#6956894)

So, I read the Technology Review article which said that "The Right Number" was really good... and I navigated to The Right Number [] to check it out.

Frankly, $0.25 per comic seems a little high to me. After all, the dead-tree Boston Globe costs $0.50 and contains more than 25 comic strips (only $0.02 each), at least five of which I really like and read every day.

And I found out that I can't just buy $0.25 worth of BitPass, I need to commit to $3.00 worth. And I thought about it a little, and tried to decide what were the chances that I'd really use the full $3.00 worth, or whether it would end up being wasted. It's not that $3.00 isn't such a big deal, but it does exceed my personal threshold for buying without even thinking.

(And this is consistent with my behavior in other real-world activities. It's only when long-distance calls dropped to $0.05 per minute or less that I stopped thinking about whether or not I needed to make the call.)

It's not just the $3.00, it's also the business of yet another account to keep track of... and if it's a real-money-related account I try to keep track of these things fairly closely. I can't possibly use a unique password for everything, so I sort of categorize them.

There's a "practically-no-security" category that I use for things like New York Times article registration: the "I couldn't care less if someone else reads 'my' New York Times article" level. I don't quite want to publish that password on Slashdot, but as far as I know I could with no ill effects (other than helping identity thieves improve their social engineering).

There's another category for information that I don't really want people to know, but for which can't see any obvious possibility of financial damage if they did. I don't want strangers to view my membership in a certain fraternal organization and find out how many years I've been a member, but, hey. Maybe Ashcroft cares, maybe a con artist could use it... sure it's paranoia but I'm a little careful with these accounts.

There's another category for sites where stuff can be ordered but only sent to me, or where money can be transferred, but only between my own accounts.

Then there's the highest level of security, for what I call "real money" accounts. These are sites where an intruder with access could actually take money out of my account and end up with cash in their account. Or get high-value easily-resaleable goods shipped to them. These accounts get their own password, a written entry in a three-ring notebook, I give a copy to my wife, and check the accounts regularly to spot abuse.

Well, there's no getting around it--BitPass goes in that category. Even though it looks as if I could limit my exposure (e.g. to $3), and even though I don't think you can buy any high-value easily-resaleable goods with it yet, I'm still leery. I feel that I have to treat BitPass as a "real money, high risk, be careful" account.

So, before opening a BitPass account I thought I'd better check out "The Right Number" to see whether it's anything I really want to read.

What I saw was a free preview that used the most annoying Flash interface I've ever seen, and didn't show me enough to decide if I want to read even one of them.

The bottom line is that, for me this particular transaction did involve a significant "mental transaction cost," because of my concerns about opening another "it's-money-take-care-of-it" online account, and, even though I was willing to pay that cost, the final analysis was that the "micropayments" for this particular item were nowhere near micro enough to suit me.

Why doesn't McCloud accept PayPal directly? (1)

dpbsmith (263124) | about 11 years ago | (#6957220)

The more I think about it, the less I understand why I am expected to use PayPal to buy a BitPass, then use BitPass to buy "The Right Number?"

Why can't I just use PayPal to purchase an individual copy of "The Right Number?"

If the payment involved fractional cents, I could understand it, but as far as I know it is perfectly practical to use PayPal for payments of $0.25.

Indeed, when I originally signed up for PayPal they specifically said this was one of the ways it was intended to be used and explained how it worked. If you had $0.00 in your PayPal account and paid someone $0.25, your credit card would be charged $5.00, the payee would receive $0.25, and $4.75 would remain in your PayPal account. Subsequent small payments would be made out of the account rather than the credit card.

The more I look at it, the more it appears to me that his refusal to accept PayPal except as a way to buy BitPass is just an artificial marketing restriction, intended to promote BitPass, and not a true business requirement for the comic-strip business.

What is a micropayment? (1)

AdamBa (64128) | about 11 years ago | (#6957241)

I think before micropayments are discussed too much, there should be some agreement on what dollar amount constitutes a micropayment. My argument against micropayments has always been that because processing a micropayment has about the same fixed costs as a regular payment, the cut that processing companies take will be so high that micropayment systems will be doomed [] .

For example consider the following question about minimum credit card charges [] . The retailer says that she pays Visa 3 percent of charges PLUS A FLAT 30 CENT FEE PER TRANSACTION. That's why Visa can get away with allowing one cent charges, because in fact the merchant still pays them the 30 cents (and loses 29 cents of course).

And it's not like 30 cents is what it costs Visa. It probably costs them much more than that per transaction. But they make enough money on the percentage of $1000 transactions that they can charge only 30 cents for a very small one. With micropayment systems, however, they have no big transactions to help cover the cost of the small ones.

So my argument is that micropayments can't work because of the fixed overhead. BUT, one thing is that when some people talk about micropayments they can mean some pretty big amounts. I saw one article that defined a "micropayment" as anything under $2.50. Come on, you can buy lots of actual real useful goods for $2.50 today. If you go to a store and buy a magazine for $2.50 is that a "micropayment"? I think not.

So I think there should be some discussion over the boundary line for micropayments.

To me micropayments are so small that you don't even think about them individually, and they are therefore charged a lot -- for example paying something each time you view a page on a site. The per-second charges on cell phones are like that (per-SECOND I said, that is, just pennies at a time) -- nobody really worries about talking for an extra second or not. Personally I would say the micropayment cutoff should be around one cent, certainly under five cents, but that's just me.

- adam

Shirky's Folly (2, Insightful)

Dan Crash (22904) | about 11 years ago | (#6957388)

If I'd known responses to Clay Shirky's article would get their own thread, I would've waited. Here's a crosspost of my original response [] .

By way of setting up a straw man, Shirky asks: "Would you pay 25 cents to view a VR panorama of the Matterhorn?" As if one's personal preference for Matterhorn photography had anything to do with the success or failure of micropayments.

Make no mistake; like ALL business ventures, some people will fail with micropayments. Some will fail because they didn't know how to market their product, or because they set their prices too high or too low. But so what? That's endemic to capitalism, not just micropayments. Just because Crystal Pepsi failed doesn't mean capitalism itself is a failure. Engaging in these kind of arguments is a beginner's mistake, and most of Shirky's thoughts on micropayments surprisingly and unfortunately exhibit this same kind of sloppy thinking.

His "mental transaction costs" argument, for example, is predicated on users being forced to engage in one or two cent transactions every time they want to view a page. But most micro advocates have abandoned this line of thought. The idea of charging a penny-per-page is history. What they want in the 21st century is the ability to sell their products -- songs and webcomics, mostly -- at a fair price. And micropayments enable them to do that. Shirky endlessly flogs the dead horse penny-a-page model, but conveniently ignores the 99-cents-a-song model that's made iTunes Music Store such a success.

Scott McCloud himself writes that 1,354 readers bought Part One of "The Right Number" at 25 cents a pop. Considering that he was the very first BitPass seller ever, and that everyone who wanted to see his comic had to go through the effort of signing up for BitPass, that's remarkable, and worth talking about. It certainly flies in the face of Shirky's assertion that consumers on the internet are so lazy and indiscriminate in their tastes that they'll bolt to free content at the first opportunity. Scott's readers had to not only pay, but go through the effort of risking $3 signing up for a new, untested service. Scott's experience demonstrates that failure to get people to pay for your product has everything to do with your relationship to your audience and nothing to do with micropayments. But Shirky ignores it all the same.

Finally, Shirky's views on micropayments completely fail to address the idea that micropayments can work with other forms of payment, such as subscriptions or bundling, instead of replacing them. Buying content ala carte may be the step that convinces you to subscribe to a site, for example. Micropayments aren't an either/or, they're an and. One more choice, not one less. And of course, micropayments can work exceptionally well alongside free content. Any public television pledge drive shows this principle in action; even small tchotchkes can induce many people to donate. Any thoughtful analysis of the future of micropayments ought to examine this phenomenon, but Shirky doesn't.

In some ways, it's nice to see that Shirky hasn't changed his tune. At least he's willing to go down with the ship. But his analysis is -- by any standard -- unbelievably shallow. As the market for micropayment content increases, it will be interesting to see how he tries to spin reality.

Anything on bitpass other than Mcloud? (1)

dayeight (21335) | about 11 years ago | (#6957679)

So I want to read the comic, but how long will I have this 2.75$ sitting around? Google searches bring up lots of blog entries but no one else seems to have bit (pun?) yet.

Re:Anything on bitpass other than Mcloud? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6957852)

Check out the Bitpass site. They list content there under the Share tab.

Re:Anything on bitpass other than Mcloud? (1)

Tim Tylor (704011) | about 11 years ago | (#6958604)

Scott's blog [] mentions a fair few other comics using BitPass.

They don't take paypal! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6957858)

I'm 32 years old and don't have a credit card!
Yes, it's taken effort, but I have
achieved 32 years of existence without
the NEED for a credit card.

I DO have a paypal account.

Where McCloud fails. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6958323)

I read the counterpoint, in which Scott McCloud dismisses the economic problem of transactional cost, and demonstrates his misunderstanding of the economic concept of substitutable good, in both cases because he misses the fundamental economic concept of marginal cost.

This is most obvious when Mr. McCloud argues that art is not a commodity. Yes, but that doesn't change the fact that it's a substitutable good subject to the laws of marginal cost. This is one of the proven, observable facts of economics consistently misunderstood by those in the arts, usually using examples like his Hail to the Thief/Hootie and the Blowfish example.

There are, economically speaking, vast numbers of people out there where the marginal value to them of "Product A" is greater than that of "Product B". However, they'll still go with "B" over "A" if the costs of A exceed the marginal value A has over B. It doesn't matter whether the question is Coke vs. Pepsi, NYT vs. Wall Street Journal, Linux vs. Windows, or Monet vs. Michaelangelo, people will pick their ideal world second choice over their ideal world preference if the marginal costs exceed their marginal value.

Furthermore, this cost is not just in price. The decision whether to spend money or not always imposes a "cost", described as a "transactional cost", which Shirky pointed out. This cost in terms of micropayments may not be any higher than in supermarkets, as McCloud claims. It's still a marginal cost over the no-transaction-needed cost of free, and will convince people to leave for free content on its own, in addition to the marginal penalty of the actual charged price.

The only question is if the quality of your work -- your "brand name" -- is consistently high enough that the sub-group willing to pay for it is big enough that the free competition doesn't stop you from having a successful buisness model. In this case micropayments could work. But there are payment alternatives. There's the subscription model, where you have only one transaction a time period, and unlimited access to the valued content during that time. And there's the bulk purchase model, where a single large payment allows you access to much of the valued content.

Since the "transaction cost" is so large compared to the payment in each purchase under any micropayment scheme, the result is that a micropayment scheme will have a user-percieved cost much higher than a reasonably priced subscription or bulk purchase. So if your stuff is of such consistent quality that people will regularly pay for it, you will probably have both fewer customers and make less money with micropayments rather than a single bulk payment/subscription program.

That leaves micropayments in a very small, perhaps nonexistent market segment, between "not worth the extra cost of paying for" and "worth buying lots of it at a time". Can a viable micropayment exist in that space? Maybe. I'm not sure Shirky's right. But McCloud didn't respond to Shirky's economics except to say "Transaction costs don't matter and art isn't substitutable", both of which are clearly fallacious to anybody who's studied what happens in real-world economic situations.

Transactions are not free (1)

kiravuo (189871) | about 11 years ago | (#6958400)

The problem with micropayments is twofold.

The primary problem is that it is very difficult to create a financially profitable micropayment system for the operator. If you look at banks (in Finland we have a very efficient direct bank transfer system, top of the world, not cheques) and credit unions, they can not really handle anything less than several euros. Telcos are actually the most skilled profit makers on small transactions, but even their limit is around 10 - 30 cents.

It is possible to push the cost of profitable transaction lower, but it is not trivial. The proposed micropayment systems have usually focused more on technology than finance or customer acceptance.

The second issue is are people willing to accept the system. That is market psychology. Personally, I think that people are willing to pay even small amounts, but it has to be transparent and consumers must be protected from unforeseen charges. Most people pay for electricity and telephone per usage without thinking about it every time they use the service, because they know what kind of bill they can expect at the end of the month.

If you can design a system that protects the consumer from unforeseen expences and also protects the consumer from the fear of unforeseen expences (get it?), I believe that a micropayment system could be possible.

Disclaimer: My company is involved in this business and I have been working on a product that enables micropayments.


Scott's Real Gripe (1)

FourPak (705017) | about 11 years ago | (#6958657)

The real issue for Scott seems to be:

"Until then, we're left with a patchwork of hobbyists, bloggers, corporate promo, online mail-order and desperate screaming pop-up ads. The artists among us are relegated to noble failures and lovable martyrs--giving away their art for nothing 'til the rent is due and they have to go back to flipping burgers. I know far too many of these people to accept Shirky's placid scenario. They're tired, they're frustrated, and they're quitting in droves."

Well... yeah, that's the point, the "artists" among you are tired, frustrated, quitting in droves, giving away your 'art' for free because you =ARE= just a patchwork of Amateur Doodlers and Scribblers, hobbyists, bloggers, and burger-flippers who Aren't Good Enough to actually get PAID for that 'art' in the real commercial world!

"The artists among us" - Jeez get over yourself.
If you were R. Crumb people with serious MONEY would be knocking down your door to publish it.

What you and BitPass are trying to do is invent a new "Economy in the Margins" that lives in the cracks of the existing market system. And hey who knows, maybe with mass broadband and a way to meter teeny-weeny payments there might be enough customers to sustain a new micro-market economy.

Although, that very same scheme has failed in various forms over the years for game programmer wanna-be's who write their first Doom mod and figure someone somewhere must be willing to pay a couple bucks to play it. Bzzzt sorry, the free stuff is just as good, and as soon as it becomes Real Good (ie Commercial Quality), surprise surprise, along comes a commercial publisher willing to publish it in the existing commercial market.

Don't quit your McJob just yet.
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