The Conversation was recently launched. While it sounds a little too much like the circle in name the concept behind it is really great. It’s a site for people in the education industry (university and research predominately) to post expert media styled articles. Instead of listening to a journalist rehash some concept – why not take it directly from the experts. Generally expert opinions fall down why it comes to covering the complexities of the field. I’ve found that the writing so far has been highly accessible and topic to date though.
I actually hope the site can take the next step and start doing two things.
- Driving public opinion towards rational analysis of topics rather than the emotive approach that comes from the broadsheets and our politicians.
- That the articles can in effect become peer reviewed by having other experts in the field as the main people who are able to comment. They definitely need some way of differentiating between regular comments and other expert commentary.
The biggest problems I see with this form of new media is funding. At some point the general populace is going to catch on that you can just block adds. Without ads the marketing people are going to start to question the worth of paying money to have their blocked add shown. What we need is direct funding for what we like. And the solution could be flattr. Flattr is a micro-payment system. You choose a broad amount that you want to spend a month and flatter all the things that you’ve enjoyed that month. Those could be charities, musicians, blogs, media articles or tutorials. At the end of the month your money gets split up and a portion sent to each of your likes. The payment per like might end up being really small. But thats the idea – with the internet comes the ability to show your work to a much larger number of people. If 200 people read my blog and leave me 1c each I’ll at least make $2. That goes a lot further towards meeting the costs than the current model where I would make nothing.
So where do micro-payments need to go to make this truly viable.
- Critical mass. Everyone needs to have an account and everyone needs to start having this on their website. That’s the only way people will start feeling they have to give.
- A way of differentiating, even in a small way, of how much you liked something. For this I’m thinking a star solution. One star and you were informative. Five stars and five times the payment. When you’ve saved me four hours in a blog post that I would have had to nut out myself I’m very appreciative.
So good luck to both of these new services to the world and let’s hope they both succeed. Expect to see a flattr button appear on my site in the not to distant future.
Edit: might write something worth paying for first!
Posted by Michael at 8:55PM 31-Mar-2011