There is quite a bit of content I consult online that I really enjoy, and I've always wondered when someone would figure out a good way to let me pay for it. It might sound odd, but I would much rather pay for a service in a clear contractual way than have to discover a dark hidden secret to the business plans of a social network, or a the hidden product placement in a blog or a wall of advertising around the article I am trying to read.
So here comes the simple invention of Flattr. You sign up so you can put some money every month in a pot and a bit like Digg, you can submit entries that others can choose to Flattr. Based on how much of a Flattr-er you are, your monthly pot will get split up and redistributed to those who added the entries. As a registered Flattr-er you can also submit your own content which people might find interesting, so funds could flow back to you as well.
The system is still beta and you need to be a bit patient—content is not great and accounts need to be requested and wait patiently for the privilege to spend Flattr points on junk entries. However, it feels like an important innovation. It's a sort of inversion of the pay for search advertising model into you pay for the nice content you find and like.
I imagine a digital experience in which everything you like is there for you to access because you pay for it to exist: could advertising simply dissolve and fade away?
Yates Buckley is Technical Partner at Unit9.