Paying for what you care

The last year or so has been completely dominated by Twitter, There have been lots of articles like this one which speak about Twitters business model and its chances of survival.

I love Twitter and have declared that i would pay to use it. I know a lot of good Samaritans who feel the same way. In this land of a million good tools, how does one make sure there is enough contribution to the ones we care. Wikipedia for instance runs a very successful donation scheme which works beautifully for them but what about commercial applications like Twitter, Facebook etc. Dont those employees deserve some direct reward for the experience they give us?

A lot of you would have shouted “Advertising” atleast a few times by now. I think advertising was an offshoot of not knowing what a person wants, thats changing with intentions galore on the internet. Advertising has moved from a mass consumption/ small conversion medium to one of data mining. This was clearly the last big play. Also advertising is facing the following issues.

  • In an opinionated world its hard to force thoughts, This is again debatable. I have been told the number of gullible people on this planet is increasing at an alarming rate. I disagree, the connected world is getting smarter and forcing consumption by clever advertising but bad quality / unjustified need will continue to wane. Seriously, look at the big cars if you need proof
  • Advertising is intrusive, it challenges my intelligence. I invent new ways to avoid it
  • Algorithmic assumptions are dangerous. A friend once told me he got an ad for “Meet married women” on facebook because he was part of this huge conversation where every girl was married.

Clearly there needs to be a next step in consumption. I would like to believe its through Free will.

**Drum Rolls**

  1. What if you could declare what you wanted to consume?
  2. You declare that along with your conditions of disclosing your intention. In this case a contribution from the broker who has access to this information to your favorite venture (twitter, facebook, orkut whatever)
  3. You close the deal, your venture ackonowledges the payment and you get special treatment (privileged members?)

There are numerous challenges for this to work ofcourse.

  1. Cant trust companies: Seriously, i love these products but i wont trust such information on their site.
  2. How do i know i wont be taken for a ride?

Also by this time its fairly obvious that the really clued in bunch will use this. Thats ok, 100k such people will make life easier for things we care. This brings us to the next question, where do i upload this and how does one make sure this works?

  • It has to be an independent vendor and preferably not for profit
  • It has have a thorough listing of vendors and fine grained control for users. Choose who all should get my buying habit, how many should get it, which area etc.
  • No history, what i do once is immediately erased. Next transaction is on a clean slate
  • An encrypted signature whose keys are given to trackers on a per case basis so this whole thing can scale. For instance if want a new tv i would put up “New tv 24 inch, 20>30k should not be samsung” in predefined format and encrypt it and put it up at a location. The key to unlock is at one organization who send it to 10 vendors who can then unlock it. This way we can publish this info on our own sites.
  • Complete abstraction api, a communication service which hides real user info from all vendors but the one who closes the deal. This one needs to scale and has to be fairly thorough.
  • Legal guidelines which protect all the interests of the users

If all this is in place then in an ideal world.

  1. I would decide to buy something, I put an encrypted text on some url. Upload the key and the url to a service
  2. I declare the benefactors of the purchase if and when it happens
  3. I fine grain number of vendors who can contact me and companies i am willing to talk to
  4. I define length of time this is active for

Now the service picks up the packet, decrypts it creates an abstraction to contact me. Email/ Voip etc and sends it to the vendors. The vendors close the deal, i make sure they let the service know and the service in turn pays the benefactors.

There might be numerous such services since it will be an open protocol and each one can charge a small service fee to the vendors to stay alive. The bigger their network gets there might be a possibility to build a valuable business.

What do you guys think? Is this worth pursuing? Will this make your world a little better?

2 comments ↓

#1 Sunil on 02.04.09 at 11:54 am

(5:01:16 PM) arvind.laxminarayan: http://blogs.gnome.org/shres/2009/02/04/paying-for-what-you-care/
(5:03:33 PM) Sunil: I love this…
(5:03:35 PM) Sunil: Advertising is intrusive, it challenges my intelligence. I invent new ways to avoid it
(5:03:41 PM) arvind.laxminarayan: ya
(5:03:56 PM) arvind.laxminarayan: and look at the system he proposes…how much time he has spent thinking abt it
(5:04:08 PM) Sunil: hmm
(5:09:24 PM) Sunil: dude
(5:09:31 PM) Sunil: its more or less like the ebay…
(5:09:56 PM) arvind.laxminarayan: oh..does this happen in ebay
(5:10:18 PM) arvind.laxminarayan: you declare wat u want..etc
(5:10:24 PM) Sunil: yeh… but this is restricted to bidding… not for direct sales…
(5:10:25 PM) arvind.laxminarayan: its a bidding process rite
(5:10:33 PM) Sunil: ya
(5:10:48 PM) arvind.laxminarayan: this guy is talking of a bigger mafia
(5:11:29 PM) Sunil: nah… he is just profile cutting the existing idea…
(5:11:40 PM) arvind.laxminarayan: hmm..
(5:11:48 PM) arvind.laxminarayan: u mean they are not original
(5:12:16 PM) Sunil: anonymity in direct sales/ by middlemen… is not new…
(5:12:27 PM) Sunil: it has been there for years…
(5:12:32 PM) arvind.laxminarayan: hmm..imagine if he had the same conversation on his blog comments
(5:12:36 PM) Sunil: he is just digitizing it…
(5:12:43 PM) arvind.laxminarayan: hmm

#2 shres on 02.04.09 at 12:07 pm

@Arvind: Nope not talking about bidding. While that market does exist, there is a bigger new purchase market which is through retail buying.

The perfect example is buying a new car, not much haggling on price of single model there. What counts there is how various models stack up against each other.

My multiple vendors i meant vendors who sell different things.

“Sunil: anonymity in direct sales/ by middlemen… is not new…”

Well, slightly wrong context. That was mostly an implementation example.

If 10 people get your intention then how do you know they wont spam you the next time even without you needing something.

This is why i mentioned a contact blanket. Anonymity in direct sales doesn’t exist, when you buy and a bill is cut it stops being anonymous.

When you enquire and move on that anonymity exists, that doesn’t happen in internet search though. Since recommendations are immediate.

Oh as for original ideas. It doesnt really matter, all that matters is if this will help.