Computers and the Internet have made it extremely easy for anyone to produce content, and distribute it to millions of users.
Musicians and movie makers can share their work with the rest of the world with very little investment, something that was impossible little over a decade ago. Similarly, weblogs are able to provide news and information much faster than old media at relatively low costs.
The Internet has brought us a tool to share and consume content, but up until now there has been no really easy way for the consuming side to reward content producers. Flattr, a new venture started by The Pirate Bay’s former spokesman Peter Sunde, opts to change this.
Flattr has been in development since 2007 and finally opened up in Beta this week. It is best described as a mashup between social content discovery sites such as Digg, Reddit and Stumbleupon, and an online payment service like Paypal.
“It’s a new revenue stream for people who share their content! It’s a combination of a donation system and a quality list of interesting content online,” said Peter Sunde describing the service to TorrentFreak.
Users who join the site can use it to discover interesting articles, great music and useful software, like on the aforementioned social discovery sites. If they see something they like they can give it a thumbs up, which is nothing new either.
The innovative part is that users of Flattr set a monthly budget they are willing to donate each month to the content they like. This can be as low as $2, or whatever the user is willing to share. At the end of the month the money is shared between the creators of the content they liked, who are all Flattr users as well.
In other words, Flattr allows consumers to flatter content producers for a flat-rate fee, and offers a revenue stream to those who create and share content.
The idea behind Flattr is innovative, but for the service to be a success the user base has to be significant. If Sunde and friends succeed in that they have an ideal solution to pay off the people who share their work for free.
Those who want to give Flattr a try can sign up for a Beta invite.