Microtips

Paul Prescod paul@prescod.net
Mon, 06 Jan 2003 15:08:26 -0800


So slashdot has an article on micropayments and this got me thinking 
about the tricky trust and convenience issues again. So I wondered what 
about a fully voluntary, client-controlled system with content 
contributor "hints". Here's what I'm thinking. I would use Google 
happily for months with no contract or anything. Every page Google sent 
me would have a little page that says something like: "Google suggests 
that you tip 0.1 cents for this page." Google doesn't know who "I" am 
and in fact if I was using a public computer even the computer wouldn't 
know who "I" am. The hint would just be discarded.

But if I am using my computer, my program would keep a log of these. I 
could look at it any time but by default it would alert me when my usage 
of a particular site exceeded some threshhold. For instance $5.00. When 
it exceeded that threshhold, it would ask me if I'd like to make a 
contribution in that amount (or some other amount). The contribution 
could be anonymous or named. If named, then maybe Google provides some 
service in return, e.g. discarding my banner ads for a month.

Payment needs to be as easy as clicking a button. That implies some 
client-side (browser) infrastructure that doesn't exist yet. But that 
infrastructure could be used for all sorts of standards online payments 
like buying things on eBay or buying analyst's reports.

  Paul Prescod