Essential extensions for online reading:

Bypass Paywalls (removes paywalls from news sites)

Medium Unlimited (removes paywalls from Medium)

Make Medium Readable Again (removes nagware from Medium)

View on Sci-Hub (redirects paywalled journal articles to the same paper on Sci-Hub)

@aadil Though I agree with the intention: Why not instead visit (and pay for) just a few of these sites and, by providing them with actual money, make sure they can survive with a funding model more sustainable and ethical than, say, ads and tracking? 😉

I definitely pay for subscriptions to sites I use regularly. Paying for a subscription to every site however, would be prohibitively expensive.

@alexjgriffith Yes, definitely so. 😉 That's why we possibly need different funding approaches (micropayments? cheaper subscriptions? BAT/#brave? ...). I'd gladly pay a lot more for online content if payment was reasonably safe (in terms of privacy) and easy (in terms of handling).


@z428 @alexjgriffith @aadil
Please do some research on Brave and why it's model ads nothing to the world.

@neb I actually did. Yet pretty much all of the articles on that subject were rather biased rants by people who obviously dislike Brave per se.
@alexjgriffith @aadil

@alexjgriffith @z428 @aadil My problem isn't so much that I don't want to pay but that they essentially steal my time by tricking me into visiting them without knowing in advance that I'm not going to be allowed to see the content. I see forcing them to give me free access to the content as compensation for having wasted my time.

What I would like to see is an automated warning that a link goes to paywalled content *before I click on it*. And a way to filter paywalled search results.

@freakazoid Hmmmm, I get your point, maybe that's more, like, a "content warning" thing if posting such links somewhere. Really having a difficult time thinking about that, and sometimes I wished there would be more effort to really make this content funding stuff more sustainable. There has been HTTP 402 "Payment required" inside the protocol ever since but never really implemented anywhere, and even these days I effectively see #Brave as the only ones who ...

@alexjgriffith @aadil

@freakazoid ... actively work on solving that problem at least *somehow*. It seems the whole of our current web has been built around the idea of getting access to content "gratis" (not libre). 😐

@alexjgriffith @aadil

@z428 @alexjgriffith @aadil The thing that bugs me about Brave is the fact that they are replacing blocked ads with their own. The thing that justifies ad blocking in my eyes is that ads can be distracting and annoying, and ad networks track you around and don't do a great job of blocking malware and fraudulent ads. *Replacing* ads feels more like theft to me.

There seems to be a mismatch between the current way the Web works and funding of content, especially with smaller creators.

@z428 @alexjgriffith @aadil To paraphrase the bargain Brave is offering creators, it's something along the lines of "Hi, we're blocking your ads and showing our own ads next to your content. As a consolation, you can either accept the cut of revenue we're offering you, or we can just keep all the money. You're welcome."


@z428 @alexjgriffith @aadil But this pales in comparison to the harm being done by the payments cartel. Innovation in payments has been at a near standstill, especially in the US, since the transition from card imprints to electronic POS systems. Since they haven't improved security, they compensate by pushing nearly all of the risk onto the merchant and the consumer. And of course their fee structure isn't conducive to small payments.

@freakazoid Yes. Exactly this. And maybe, here, the US is even a bit ahead of places like Germany where a lot of payment still is about cash... 😉

@alexjgriffith @aadil

@z428 @alexjgriffith @aadil As a neo-luddite, I have a lot of interest in cash myself. The only cryptocurrency that makes a serious attempt to protect privacy is Monero. The others are made by people who don't know what they're doing (Verge, Tor != anonymous payments) or use a privacy primitive that's too expensive for ordinary transactions, making all private transactions suspicious (ZCash).

And of course credit cards are a totalitarian's wet dream.

@z428 @alexjgriffith @aadil One thing I'd really like to see is a smart contract that will make payments on a schedule to a set of addresses in configured amounts ala Patreon, either until it runs out of money or until the owner withdraws the money. I suspect this is implementable today using Ethereum.

@grainloom GNU Taler or just Taler? 😉

Generally, however, I think it would require some sort of standardization and agreeing upon one of these systems to foster a wider acceptance (which seems needed to make meaningful use of it in more "general purpose" environments...).

@freakazoid @alexjgriffith @aadil

@z428 @grainloom @alexjgriffith @aadil Regarding GNU Taler, it's a currency that only a totalitarian could love. There is nothing "special" about receiving money vs sending it that makes the recipient somehow undeserving of anonymity.

Governments will *always* use the payment system to try to stop activities that governments have no business interfering with. We see this in the US right now with the "soft censorship" that perfectly legal adult content is being subjected to through the banks.

@freakazoid Yes. But that's at least slightly better to "We're blocking your ads and removing all content you require for refunding. Period." - just like every other ad blocker does. 😉 Plus: Brave doesn't display ads "next to content" (at least I haven't seen it like that so far). It does provide you (as the end user) with ads then and now and you're able to easily "donate" money to individual creators. This seems far from perfect but still unfortunately better and ...

@alexjgriffith @aadil

@freakazoid ... lower-bareer than anything else these days - not thinking about privacy and practicability issues for micropayments and such.

@alexjgriffith @aadil

@z428 @alexjgriffith @aadil Ah, ok, I didn't realize they weren't inserting the ads in the same spot. Still, the content is what gives the browser its utility, so it's not that different. Of course, it's ALSO not nearly as bad as Google being a huge fraction of the revenue of the other browser makers; they're the majority of revenue for Mozilla and Opera and 25% of Apple's services revenue.


@z428 @alexjgriffith @aadil On the BAT thing, I can't really tell if the reason everyone makes their own cryptocurrency is because they are hoping their own cryptocurrency goes "to the moon" or because they think their own niche cryptocurrency is somehow going to be more stable than one of the major ones. Either way, as long as it continues, that'll be a good sign that cryptocurrencies aren't ready to be part of the solution to the problem.

@freakazoid Personall guess: It's somewhere in between trying to have the "next big thing" in a still growing/changing "market" with many different players - and the idea to provide some solution that at least wasn't thought as a general-purpose cryptocurrency but rather a solution to a specific problem (in Brave case, to the problem of throwing money at random web sites).

@alexjgriffith @aadil

@z428 @alexjgriffith @aadil Back to the general issue of funding creation of web content, I suspect the right answer for the time being might be a lot more mundane and low-tech. Instead of having smaller creators be at the mercy of a centralized service operated for the profit of others, maybe we need more collectives like OpenCollective that are large enough to handle their own payments and infrastrutcure. Or organizations like SPI (Debian), PSA (Python), Apache, etc., but for content.

@z428 @alexjgriffith @aadil Instead of sticking paywalls and ads on content, encourage joining the organization and/or donating.

Organizations and software/infrastructure aimed at helping such things get off the ground could go a long way toward alleviating the problem.

There are certainly high-quality journalism outfits out there without paywalls or ads. Christian Science Monitor is one. And obviously public radio and TV get a huge amount of their funding from voluntary donations.

@freakazoid Yes, at least for paywalls. I have, however, no real idea how this works out in the end if you're *only* focussed on providing content online. There are, in example, a bunch of German newspapers trying to follow that approach online, but so far at least in some cases it seems they're still not able to cover "online" costs with the money they earn online, rather still relying upon money earned from selling printed issues day to day.

@alexjgriffith @aadil

@z428 @freakazoid @alexjgriffith @aadil A loosely-affiliated theatre chain could be an interesting approach that comes to mind... Costs would increase substantially but so could profit.

Short of that may be a subscription to a daily episode or something...

I am interested in seeing what I can do this way once I've got enough data on what great entertainment is available! I'll be asking questions sometime.

@freakazoid @z428 @alexjgriffith @aadil
It should be noted that the examples you give, Christian Science Monitor and public radio and television have large parent organisations that ease the financial and other commitments needed to sustain these efforts. Likewise, through tax incentives, charitable not for profit organisations can get some of this same support albeit at a lesser level. Most small organisations do not have these advantages. Relying on koha is a very difficult path.

@ByronCinNZ @z428 @alexjgriffith @aadil This is why I say they need to get together in order to be large enough to share infrastructure and knowledge, but not so large that they're no longer connected to the people they want to serve.

It's not the easy way, but I think we need to seriously consider the possibility that the current promise is a lie and has never really worked. It's not like there's some inherent human right to be able to build a sustainable business on cheap ads or paywalls.

@freakazoid I agree. But at the other side of things however, there also seems the need for more awareness of that issue on the consuming end of things. I mean, after all, ever since the first days of Napster and all that, distributing content "gratis" has been a core concern that seemed to matter to people.

@alexjgriffith @aadil

@z428 @alexjgriffith @aadil Napster was popular because the music industry was stuck in an antiquated way of doing things. Now everybody uses Spotify and Bandcamp, the record companies are doing 360 contracts with the artists, and when you buy an album it comes without DRM. It's not perfect, but it's also "good enough" for the time being.

@z428 @alexjgriffith @aadil These days video piracy mostly focuses on premium content: porn and exclusive series from networks people don't want to subscribe to because (Game of Thrones, Star Trek Discovery) or are blocked in their country. There's also the issue that fragmentation can make it hard to find content. And "purchased" video content still comes with DRM.

@z428 @alexjgriffith @aadil I think the conclusion there is that video production and distribution is behind music in terms of development. I think it'll get there.

@z428 @alexjgriffith @aadil The fact that piracy has gone down dramatically as less obnoxious legal options have become available tells me that people are willing to pay when you don't put stupid barriers in the way of their being able to pay.

Payment really needs to be built into the browser and not require special support from each merchant for some common middleman that takes its own fees.

@z428 @alexjgriffith @aadil Back to piracy for a moment, there is always going to be a baseline level, because for some, finding ways not to pay is a hobby. Often these folks are "power consumers" and spend more than the average person on content even as they find new ways to pirate, so it's not like they just won't pay. I subscribe to Netflix and Hulu and go to the movies, but I pirate when I want to own something because of DRM.

@z428 @alexjgriffith @aadil I do think you're right in the sense that people are used to getting content gratis *on the web*, but the web is still quite young. Not compared to Internet content distribution in general, but think how long it took to adjust to the printing press and to recorded music.

@freakazoid I agree. The only really danger I see here is: We're often somewhat fuzzy in our distinction between "gratis" and "libre". A lot of situations suffer from that. I want some approach that makes content "libre" to access, but not necessarily "gratis"; yet at the moment we have absolutely no means to do so (maybe except for streaming or "flatrate" access which doesn't seem a really good solution either...).

@alexjgriffith @aadil

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@freakazoid Some of the musicians in my environment argue that at least Spotify causes more harm than piracy, but possibly that's a different thing to discuss. 😉 Generally, however, I tend to agree, but I have no real figure to see how the idea of, like, giving up on DRM and the like really works out, especially to independent musicians or other kinds of artists not targeting a really wide audience. Okay, then again, maybe those are even better off because they manage ...

@alexjgriffith @aadil

@freakazoid ... to keep their listeners loyal easier than your next one-hit wonder. Maybe the industry at some point will adapt to that. Not really sure.

@alexjgriffith @aadil

@z428 @alexjgriffith @aadil I was speaking only to the impact on piracy and what it says about the "expect everything gratis" objection.

I think for smaller artists platforms like Bandcamp are probably a lot more interesting.

@freakazoid Yes. The importance of Google ad revenue for companies like Mozilla also still gives me the creeps in many possible ways.

@alexjgriffith @aadil

@aadil thank you for the paywall bypass especially, been looking for something like that for ages

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Merveilles is a community project aimed at the establishment of new ways of speaking, seeing and organizing information — A culture that seeks augmentation through the arts of engineering and design. A warm welcome to any like-minded people who feel these ideals resonate with them.