Category Archives: Decaf


Give more without having less

Much has been written about Flattr. Time to add my two (euro-) cents.

What actually is it? Flattr is a comparably new online service that allows registered users to give equal shares of a preset monthly budget to a group of recipients, which is put together every month by clicking their Flattr buttons. (Or by entering their Twitter username, or by scanning their Flattr-QR.)

When you give Flattrs to content providers, you send them both micro-amounts of real money and the message that you appreciate what they do. The donor’s monthly budget translates into shares depending on how many Flattrs he or she gave away during this month. Obviously, the amount received per recipient is the total monthly budget divided by the number of recipients (minus a fee.)

So, how do you control how much you give per click? After some clicks you don’t really remember how many times you have clicked already. But at the same time while you click, the flattred amounts for that month become smaller and smaller and you actually needn’t care that much. With each click, the monetary aspect grows less and the message of appreciation sent to the recipient gains importance. The nature of Flattrs changes in the course of a month.

Flattrs are normally too small for me to start pondering whether one article is worth that precise amount of money or not. But, on the other hand, they are big enough to add up at their destinations to tangible amounts when a content provider receives tens, hundreds or thousands of Flattrs. Making flattred amounts smaller reduces the burden of justifying their size – a good reason to keep on clicking!

Flattr is a little piece of magic. Somebody discovered a clever formula that was long overdue for Web 2.0. Flattr has the potential to change the rule that many people publish their work and only some privileged get paid for it. I don’t dare to make any predictions about its future because I think that too many powerful players would prefer to see Flattr fail. At the moment it is too small yet to be perceived as threat. Already the idea has something revolutionary, just like the postulation of equality in the history of the Enlightenment. I’m virtually waiting for an irritated CEO to compare Flattr with communism – mark my words ;-).

What makes Flattr special to me

  1. It’s damn easy. You like, you click. It’s pretty much like a Facebook Like button, but enriched by meaning. No hassle with passwords, credit card numbers or dodgy payment gateways. Flattr provides the shortest connection from liking to giving.
  2. No hangovers. You needn’t regret extensive clicking. You can click the whole month without having to watch your account. The more you give, the smaller the amounts will be. Using infinitesimal fractions of a preset budget is the safest way to add the micro to the payment.
  3. Receiving and giving is combined into one account. Flattr challenges  the traditional role division of vendors and consumers. It is an empowerment of individual users, a tool to boost participation on the grassroots level.
  4. There is no lock-in. Use the button together with any other payment system of your choice.
  5. No need to win the trust of a payment gateway that knows everything about you while you know nothing about them. You don’t have to enter your mother’s maiden name or pass a credit scoring. You simply have some money and you spend it. Everything else is your business.
  6. Flattr refutes the theory that the Web is a place where human beings turn into zombies of consumerism.

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