A Word with Walter
Over the years, beginning with a Time cover story, I've speculated about the way micropayments and cryptocurrencies could save journalism. In fact, I think it could save all of content creation online, because nowadays content creation and journalism are too dependent on advertising-only revenue. Cryptocurrency's easy, frictionless payment systems could enable people to pay for and get higher-value content, and that, of course, would be an incentive for content creators to produce things that people, not just advertisers, might value.
These micropayment systems, perhaps connected to Bitcoin, would provide a safe, easy, frictionless way for people to say, "I like that song. I like that magazine. I like that picture. I like that blog. I like that poem. I want to pay a little bit of something for it." You could have the little tokens embedded in your web browser in a digital wallet, and as you found songs, articles, magazines, or books you wanted, you could just pay directly with one click. One click, and the money would go right to the producer of that song, blog, whatever it may have been.
That would allow thousands of aspiring journalists and poets and musicians to sell their content directly to consumers, and I think it would also help provide an incentive to value good journalism. A newspaper or magazine could say, "We get advertising revenue, but we're also going to ask for a small payment system once a week when you buy our publication, or maybe a quick ten cents or 25 cents when you read one of our articles."
If you want to see some of the articles I've written over the years – sometimes feeling like I'm crying into the wind – here are some links to some of the articles I've written on this topic:
How Bitcoin Could Save Journalism
Big Idea: The Coming Micropayment Disruption
A Bold Old Idea to Save Journalism