Friday, February 02, 2007

Virtual Syndication

Glenn Greenwald is absolutely, 100% correct that dedicated bloggers such as himself deserve to get paid. He's also correct that the conservative blog funding model, where rich donors directly or deviously support their favored bloggers, is not appropriate for the democratic, grassroots character of the liberal side of the blogosphere. "He who has the gold makes the rules," and I don't want George Soros dictating my reading any more than I want Robert Iger to do so.

But the magazine subscription business model has substantial flaws.

So I'm proposing an alternative: Virtual Syndication.

The idea is simple: content providers--individual bloggers, artists, writers, etc.--will sign up and be listed as potential payees. Readers will sign up, pay a monthly amount, and designate precisely how that money is to be distributed to their favored content providers. A content provider can either require or merely encourage paid access, and perhaps set up some sort of reciprocity with other providers to allow "hostile" readers access to his or her content.

There will doubtlessly be challenging technical and business issues to resolve, but I think the underlying idea is sound.

I'm willing to put my time--if not my non-existent money--where my mouth is. If my readers are willing to donate the start-up costs, I will donate my time and energy as an experienced computer programmer and small-business executive and set up a non-profit corporation to implement this idea. I'll also donate my time to operate the business until it becomes too much to do in my spare time. As a non-profit business, I would deduct only the operating costs; all the rest of the money would go to the bloggers and other content providers.

Or, if you want to steal implement this idea yourself, for-profit or non-profit, feel free. If you do, I wouldn't mind at all if you mentioned me.

I'll be setting up some system to collect donations (which will probably require at least some legal paperwork) next week, so stay tuned (bonus: my regular content will still appear). In the meantime, if you'd like to help, offer advice, words of support, criticism or brickbats, you can email me; my address is also in my profile.

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