Money and Imagination: E-commerce, Getting Paid for Creative Work Online

A business problem in newsletter publishing led me to a totally new design for e-commerce and more: financial and other online accounts that can reproduce (replicate), creating “children” and grandchildren accounts. The resulting “trees” of ancestor and descendent accounts may include many different human owners.

The key advantage: each new accounts can instantly inherit hundreds of different settings from its parent, at “birth.” These settings will control various services and applications inside the account itself, and allow payments without the hassle of typing in a bank card number, etc). The owner of the newly born account can then change (most of) its settings, as desired.

It would be too tedious to enter hundreds of settings manually whenever a new account is created. But with reproduction, a parent account can immediately create not only a new account with any amount of internal complexity, but also any number of equally complex throwaway accounts that can be given out, and will self-destruct when their work is done, cleaning up details first and leaving no mess. The result is easy management of far more complex and capable infrastructures than possible with conventional online accounts.

An important use of this design will be better ways to pay and get paid for creative digital work online. For example, if you are moved by a song, investigative article, or other work, you can “buy” hundreds of copies at a small per-unit price — making them free to hundreds of users who never need to register or have any money; you can target which groups of users get your access, and optionally provide a short sponsor’s message to anyone who streams or downloads a copy you paid for. So if the artist sets a bulk unit price of say 25 cents, you could buy 100 prepaid accesses for $25, almost all of which will go to the artist

I’m looking for people interested in building this kind of e-commerce capability — in the FOSS or academic worlds instead of the usual corporate systems.

For more information see www.replicounts.org.