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Juha Viitala for Web Monetized Multimedia

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Intro: Web-monetized Multimedia

Everyone is probably familiar with the old classic term Multimedia from the early days of the internet. The multimedia concept can be traced to Paul Nipkow, a German scientist who invented the early version of television. Paul invented the first video disc “Nipkow disc” in 1884 at age 24. (1)

In the first Wikipedia article in 2001 while after the launch of the Wikipedia Multimedia is described: A term used to describe media for which multiple means are used to convey information (audio, video, text, vector graphics, interactivity). Often used to describe any computer media. (2)

In the early years of Multimedia the term "rich media" was synonymous with interactive multimedia. Over time, hypermedia extensions brought multimedia to the World Wide Web (3) or information superhighway!

Multimedia has a quite extensive history and for the past decade the term is more or less vanishing from general use. Or maybe it's just me who has nostalgia for Multimedia as I took a community college course about Multimedia back in 1995 in Finland :D

So that’s it for history..

We at Equilibrium have been working with the Interledger protocol in several projects, as well as following the progression of Web Monetization, micropayments and media payment transactions closely. We feel that it has vast untapped potential, and finally both psychological and technological barriers are collapsing. Psychology-wise many players in the media field are now understanding that we need new tools and practices to tackle old problems. By working together and collaborating with the whole ecosystem we can benefit all parties and stakeholders. Technological development has taken us there. We are starting to have a sufficient tech stack to solve many of the problems the media and industry is facing.

Ok, getting to the point!

While studying the current state of Web Monetization, we realized that adding a simple Web Monetization for your website is easy, but building a more complex web monetization platform, like a video-sharing platform or a news website, requires additional logic.

Basically, we are working with the same puzzle pieces as the early internet, like text, pictures, audio and video all over again.

Project goals

The project focus of web-monetized-multimedia is to deliver a Web Component Library that enables its users to build a multimedia content platform with new possibilities for monetizing various types of content.

Web Monetization has been one of the most prominent use cases for Interledger. The ever-growing community and more and more complex projects are looking to utilize the feature. Therefore, we are seeing growing demand for easy-to-use-tools for developers to build more complex platforms that utilize Web Monetization.

Some existing Web Monetization projects are touching on Multimedia, but not as deeply as required for modern media platforms, like video and music streaming web apps.

Leveraging Web Monetization to cover multimedia more widely would enable a massive amount of new use-cases and areas to utilize Web Monetization. This would encourage more developers to start implementing components and result in wider adoption in end-users as well.

There seem to be a few existing libraries for this, like react-web-monetization, monetizer and web-monetization-scripts. The available libraries deserve more developer recognition, and we aim to test these libraries out, contributing to the development with bug fixes.

Our main goal during the six-month timeline is to create multiple examples of Web Monetization applications, including video and audio streaming use case examples with optional advertisement support, and an example of a multi-publisher blog, with an accompanying web components library. We chose web components because they can be used in many front-end contexts, including React and Vue.

Broader vision

As mentioned, these challenges don't just impinge on Web Monetization but the whole media industry. Our long term vision is to be able to integrate these practices and building blocks to established news outlets. The concept of "micro payment" is often tried and often failed. We strongly believe that with the right set of tech, tools and practices, we can overcome the old obstacles and benefit the whole ecosystem.

Juha - I’ve been following the rise of the networks and internet from the late 80’s and spending most of my career around multimedia innovations. Excited to be part of the grantee community!


Top comments (6)

jfarkas profile image
Janos Farkas

I share many of your views on the broader vision. The current tools available for monetizing online content limit commerce to self-declared gatekeepers, as many of you from this community have repeatedly pointed that out.

Web Monetization is one of the tools which can help to open “free trades” for online content but it needs a broader infrastructure with a “toolbox” that also fixes inequality (among other issues). Even if a comprehensive toolset would be available to support the whole media industry ordinary creators would be still left behind. The tools need to be accessible globally.

Media industries have made a stride to established tools to facilitate commerce, for example, ISBN for books, ONIX for publications, IPTC for press, DDEX for music, and EIDR for broadcasting and movies. Those systems are generally limited to members. Nevertheless, new tools should not force those members to change infrastructures that took decades to implement.

Respect for rights is another pain point that needs a cure in our internet society. This topic is extremely broad and has lead to some of the most debated laws worldwide. The problem boils down - in my view - to the lack of a global infrastructure that could be used to determine the attribution and the associated rights of online content. Lawmakers were made to believe that it was not a feasible technical task. The key technologies are clearly available today.

We at CLink Media have been working on creating an interoperable, open infrastructure for asserting attribution and rights information, tools for legitimate reuse of digital content, and peer-to-peer monetization without third-party intermediaries. See our first post in the community and relevant links within.

We would be very interested to work with you, your team, and anyone in the community to share ideas and collaborate on building the “toolbox” for a better internet.

P.S. The first reference on your post shows a 404 error

juhaviitala profile image
Juha Viitala

Thanks Janos,

you have interesting project going on. There are certain similarities with the SSI development going on currently. Where DID is similar identifier for various entities, main component for digital identity. Should it work with content as well? But it's evident that governing these registries is one of the bottleneck and hindering the development. Where the registries are, who has control over those.. Must take a closer look on your project. There are definitely some touching points were we could collaborate.

Link should be fixed now.

jfarkas profile image
Janos Farkas • Edited

Thank you Juha for your response.

CLink - and DOA - is a distributed system. Trusted users can have a replica of the public data on their local instances while maintaining their private dataset (what they can flip to public with a click of the button). Consensus engine can be implemented on the instances having "write" capabilities to public data. It does also provide a way of producing hashes automatically on digital objects at deposit time, and if necessary linking one digital object to another (as a chain). From my view, governance is simpler, faster, and more scalable than writing identifiers to a public blockchain. Furthermore, the architecture provides a repository for metadata and payloads. For example, it can support communities to set their own rules on how to manage their data including what to make public and what to keep private.

DID initially started out for SSI inspired digital entities as you pointed out. Recently, it was extended to content. CLink does have a plan to support DID.

chrislarry profile image
Chris Lawrence

This is a fantastic post Juha, thank you! I really loved the history lesson. Looking forward to your progress and updates. Is there a hashtag that comes to mind that we might use to help discover and sort these library/tooling based projects? Should we have a #multimedia hashtag? We are always thinking of ways to help interest groups form within this space.

juhaviitala profile image
Juha Viitala • Edited

Thanks Chris! #multimedia would be great hashtag. And #webcomponents could be another.

chrislarry profile image
Chris Lawrence

Go ahead and add the hashtags to the post!