Services as perks

Since we're just chatting, and I apparently sleep like a zen monk (without any of the advantages), the thing that has been keeping me awake: I am going to build a crowd-funding platform specifically for stuff going into the commons, such as free cultural artifacts (CC-0 stuff) and FOSS projects, as well as supporting the personal lives of folks that participate in such things (replacing broken laptops, making airfare to LibrePlanet/Wikimania/wherever).

That is exciting, sure. But it is a lot of work, and I need to get org stuff in place, yadda yadda. The part that is making my brain crank is how I am going to fund ongoing web services via the clever use of perks.

Basically, I want to make services that are accessible to lots of folks, regardless of ability to pay, while also being transparent about the cost. A lot of the stuff I host isn't open registration, in part because dealing with spammy accounts and volume is difficult to do when one isn't offsetting the cost by being creepy (ie tracking, serving ads, selling user info, etc.). So, each web service will have an annual fund-raiser, explaining how much it is used, and aiming to to support itself for the next year. The tiered awards will include a "perk", which is one from a list.

What are the perks? Essentially an account on some service, and different extras on subsequent choices (the latter are shown after the forward slashes).

  • A jabber account for you/for a friend
  • ownCloud account for you/for a friend, more storage
  • WordPress hosting
  • Federated social net account for you/for a friend

The idea is that those accounts are lifetime affairs, and this also makes it so once a year we can have an intake of new users for our services, making it more manageable (the other ways to get accounts will be local, in-person mentoring, special programs, stuff like that).

This way of funding and increasing usage free web services corresponds to my ideas on human scale (hey, I wrote that a almost exactly a year ago!). And the possibilities are astounding. Right now is a golden time to point out how big companies treat customers as products, and to cater to a growing number of folks that care about how theirs services are configured. It also means that I can support the free and open web by mentoring others and supporting individuals behind projects (whom I'd much prefer run updates and configure these services than myself!).

So yeah, that is why I only sleep 4 hours a night, which itself contributes to the delirious smile I wear these days. ^_^