A 3 month experiment in content economics

A new way to pay for and get paid from the web

The way things are going now it wont be long before every website has its own paywall, and we think that sucks. We also know that its incredibly hard to make a living as an independent creator, and we think that sucks too.

Atri is an experiment in how we pay for, and get paid from the web. More specifically, Atri is a chrome extension that lets readers open a $10 per month “fund” that gets distributed to creators. Instead of using pageviews or tip jars, Atri does all the work automatically and distributes the money based on attention — the more attention a creator earns, the more money they earn.

We built Atri as a way to change how the web gets paid for — instead of advertisers buying our data and privacy and attention, Atri lets everyone on the web take ownership of the web, supporting the people who influence them most.

Each month you pay $10, which gets sent to the people who made the blogs, videos, comics, songs, and podcasts you paid attention to. The more attention you spend on any one creator’s content, the more they make. If you also happen to make stuff, then you get paid too.

Atri extension after a month of browsing

Atri is backwards compatible with the web

Instead of building a new platform and identity for every creator, Atri uses the most commonly used ID and verification system — Twitter. These social IDs let us know who made the content you’re viewing, and where to send your money, without adding anything to how consumers and creators use the web.

As you browse, Atri looks to see who made all the things that you’re reading and watching. At the end of the month, we can verify where to send your money by using the twitter handles of the content creators, ensuring the people you’re paying are in fact the people you saw.

To make Atri work, we built an algorithm that converts how you browse the web into how you’re spending your attention. Using this, in conjunction with our ability to link content creators by their Twitter identities, we can create a cohesive view of who earned your attention, and how much money they will make at the end of the month.

So how is this an experiment?

Instead of the typical Medium product announcement of inspiring claims and giant ambition, often followed by months or years of effort and little progress, we’re limiting Atri to 3 months. In June, we’ll stop Atri and take stock of how we did, how it worked, and whether or not it truly can be the future of how we pay for, and get paid from, the web.

The Atri experiment starts today (March 2nd, 2016 for those of you reading from the future). These 3 months will give us enough time to learn about browsing patterns and creator distributions, and it also caps your potential expenditure on Atri at $30.

We’re also defining how many people we need to join us in this. In order to make the economics work (i.e. make real contributions to creators, instead of just pennies) we’ve calculated that we need 10,000 paying beta testers.

How do I join?

To join us, download the extension and sign up here. If you want to see how this goes but you don’t want to sign up (although really we’d rather you join us), follow this publication and we’ll send out semi-regular updates. And if you love the idea, please share it by clicking here.

In early June, we’ll post a comprehensive run down of how the experiment went (hopefully well, and hopefully we’ll be expanding beyond 10,000).

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