Evil Genius Chronicles Podcast for May 31 2015 – 30 Minutes to Outrage

In this episode, I play a song from Valley Lodge; I discuss why I am done with Flattr; I am the dad that sleeps in the tent; I talk about season passes and always having towels; I talk about choices and decision fatigue and why I play roulette; I close on discussing the Black Widow controversy around Age of Ultron and how that is exactly like an ebook controversy from 15 years ago; I urge everyone to take a few minutes before acting on any outrage and from there we call it a day.

Here is the direct MP3 download for the Evil Genius Chronicles podcast, May 31, 2015.

Links mentioned in this episode:

You can subscribe to this podcast feed via RSS. To sponsor the show, contact BackBeat Media. Don’t forget, you can fly your EGC flag by buying the stuff package. This show as a whole is Creative Commons licensed Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported. Bandwidth for this episode is provided by Cachefly.

Evil Genius Chronicles Podcast for January 12 2015 – Patreon and Videos

In this episode, I return to the old format! I play a song by the Gentle Readers; I discuss the differences between Flattr and Patreon and why I am thinking hard about going with the latter; I talk about my experience as a fan of Cats Laughing and their current Kickstarter; what the heck, let’s play some Cats Laughing too; I talk about my experiences with doing video interviews; I discuss the late 70s/early 80s Athens GA bands better than REM; I close out with a song from Glass Eye.

Here is the direct MP3 download for the Evil Genius Chronicles podcast, January 12 2015

Links mentioned in this episode:

You can subscribe to this podcast feed via RSS. To sponsor the show, contact BackBeat Media. Don’t forget, you can fly your EGC flag by buying the stuff package. This show as a whole is Creative Commons licensed Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported. Bandwidth for this episode is provided by Cachefly.

Evil Genius Chronicles Podcast for August 2, 2014 – “DDOP Day 3: BeyondPod”

In this episode, I talk about the apps I use to listen to podcasts on my Android devices (and pay money to the creators as well!) I cover BeyondPod, BeyondFlattr and Flattr and talk about how they work together.

Here is the direct MP3 download for the Evil Genius Chronicles podcast, August 2, 2014

You can subscribe to this podcast feed via RSS. To sponsor the show, contact BackBeat Media. Don’t forget, you can fly your EGC flag by buying the stuff package. This show as a whole is Creative Commons licensed Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported. Bandwidth for this episode is provided by Cachefly.

Links mentioned in this episode:

Evil Genius Chronicles Podcast for March 15, 2014 – “Microcast: Tiny Money”

Here is the direct MP3 download for the Evil Genius Chronicles podcast, March 15, 2014.

In this microcast I talk about Kickstarter, Patreon and Flattr. You can do one of the three for me.

You can subscribe to this podcast feed via RSS. To sponsor the show, contact BackBeat Media. Don’t forget, you can fly your EGC flag by buying the stuff package. This show as a whole is Creative Commons licensed Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported. Bandwidth for this episode is provided by Cachefly.

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Evil Genius Chronicles Podcast for October 7, 2013 – “Use Your Aspirations”

Here is the direct MP3 download for the Evil Genius Chronicles podcast, October 7, 2013. I discuss my interest in cord cutting for TV; I talk about the 7 Minute Workout and trying to keep my weight under control; I talk about my experiments with trading my laptop for a Bluetooth keyboard and using Podcast Addict as my sole podcatcher/listener; I close off talking about aspirations vs reality in marketing and life.

You can subscribe to this podcast feed via RSS. To sponsor the show, contact BackBeat Media. Don’t forget, you can fly your EGC flag by buying the stuff package. This show as a whole is Creative Commons licensed Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported. Bandwidth for this episode is provided by Cachefly.

Links mentioned in this episode:

Bootstrapping a Podcast Economy with Flattr

Bootstrapping a Podcast Economy with Flattr

Very short version: I think Flattr has the possibility of enabling a reasonable podcast economy. If enough people use it, podcasters will be able to generate an income with minimal overhead. If I pointed you here from an email, it is because I want to give you money.

Slightly longer background:

If you are unfamiliar with +Flattr , it is a very low friction microdonation system. The brilliant thing they did was to separate out the cash decision from the payment decision. Unlike most where you have to decide whether to pay $0.03 vs $0.05, that decision has a mental transaction cost. With Flattr, you allocate a pool of money to pay each month then you "Flattr" which is basically the same thing as a Digg, a Facebook like or a +1. The things you like in a month, that pool of money is spread equally across all of those. Brilliant.

I have had Flattr on my blog/podcast for a few years. It has been an interesting experiment and worth doing, but not a huge revenue producer for me. To this date, the using of Flattr was a niche, early adopter thing. My hope – and the reason for my push for advocacy – is that this spreads out into a more widely adopted platform.

In a world where this was as common as, say, Digg was at its height then there would be a reasonable amount of money flowing in a roughly meritocratic manner. The more listeners you have, in general the more money that should flow towards you. The money that comes into podcasting now is distributed quite bi-modally. The top 5% makes livable money from Stamps.com and Legal Zoom et al, the bottom 95% makes little or nothing. I've been lucky enough to sell t-shirts and make a little from sponsorships via the very kind folks at Backbeat Media. Over the course of this podcast, I am probably close to break even on hosting, equipment and various expenses. That probably puts me in the top 20 percentile of podcasters because most people pay expenses and earn nothing.

My pledge is that I will flattr every episode of every podcast in my subscription list that has it enabled. If you run off of WordPress, you can install the Flattr plugin and go to town. Make sure you check the option to put payment information in your RSS/Atom feed and you are good to go. I'm still looking for auto-flattring solutions, but for now I'm manually clicking the button on the site of every pocaster that has it on their site. The trickle has begun, I hope to see a wider adoption over time. If the amount climbs enough, I will increase the amount of money I give.

My appeal is two-fold. If you are a podcast listener and a fan, sign up for an account. The site is in Euros, that is no impediment to Americans. The money will auto-convert from your credit card. All of the podcasters that you listen to, flattr their episodes either automatically via a podcatcher or manually.

If you are a podcaster, create a Flattr account and let people give you money. If you run WordPress it is super easy, others might be slightly more work but nothing is hard to do. If you have technical questions, I volunteer to be your tech support. Be patient, don't expect anything huge at first but I can guarantee nothing about this will suck money away from you. At worst, you wasted a few minutes. At best, you might find yourself paying your hosting or more with the money that flows in.

Because this is a "boil the ocean" situation, the early going has been and is tough. It makes little sense to sign up as a listener when there is nothing to flattr. As a creator, it makes little sense to invest in a platform with few users. Let's cut through that, and push on both fronts simultaneously with a mutual leap of faith. Neither group has much to lose, so let's all just do it. I'm doing both ends myself, so I'm as invested as I can be. +Dan Benjamin of 5by5.tv does it for all their shows, the biggest network adopter I know of at this point. As Rage Against the Machine sings: "It has to start somewhere, it has to start sometime. What better place than here? What better time than now?"

This is already long, in a future post I'll talk about auto-flattr solutions for podcast listeners.

For now, I urge everyone to give this a try. You click like, +1 and similar things all day every day. You understand the paradigm, let's do it in a system where your money matches your attention.

#podcasteconomy #blog #flattr

Flattr – Social microdonations
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Evil Genius Chronicles Podcast for September 30, 2013 – “Don’t Give Me A Story When I Want Information”

Here is the direct MP3 download for the Evil Genius Chronicles podcast, September 30, 2013.

I talk about my podcast listening workflow and my mostly frustrating search for a satisfactory Android equivalent; I continue to talk about the podcast economy and Flattr’s possible role in that; I use the professional poker world as an analogy for how this might work; I talk about how little I care of most issues that inflame the social media lately; I discuss about how I don’t want my information as “stories” despite being told repeatedly that is the way we need everything.

You can subscribe to this podcast feed via RSS. To sponsor the show, contact BackBeat Media. Don’t forget, you can fly your EGC flag by buying the stuff package. This show as a whole is Creative Commons licensed Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported. Bandwidth for this episode is provided by Cachefly.

Links mentioned in this episode:

Evil Genius Chronicles Podcast for September 20, 2013 – “Three Years with Flattr”

Here is the direct MP3 download for the Evil Genius Chronicles podcast, September 20, 2013.

I mostly discuss the Flattr project and my experience with using it for three years; (Marie is the name I fail to recall); I discuss a modest proposal for kickstarting a Flattr based podcast economy; I close by talking about why Ting is so attractive to me for cell phone service.

You can subscribe to this podcast feed via RSS. To sponsor the show, contact BackBeat Media. Don’t forget, you can fly your EGC flag by buying the stuff package. This show as a whole is Creative Commons licensed Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported. Bandwidth for this episode is provided by Cachefly.

Links mentioned in this episode:

Evil Genius Chronicles Podcast for February 6, 2012 – “Write Me, Flattr Me”

Here is the direct MP3 download for the Evil Genius Chronicles podcast, circa February 6, 2012. This episode was recorded standing on a chilly and windy beach. I have two main topics – suggesting that podcasters and specifically podcasters of my circle should bum rush the Flattr system and talking about The Month of Letters Challenge, aka #LetterMo.

You can subscribe to this podcast feed via RSS. To sponsor the show, contact BackBeat Media. Don’t forget, you can fly your EGC flag by buying the stuff package. This show as a whole is Creative Commons licensed Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5. Bandwidth for this episode is provided by Cachefly.

Links mentioned in this episode:

Flattr and Free Money For You

This blog has been been Flattr enabled for close to two years. I still think Flattr is a great idea and I’d love to see it get wider adoption, both from the content creator side as well as the consumer let-me-give-you-money side. Thanks to the fine folks at Flattr, there is a scheme to help prime the pump and get the idea out there. You can follow the above link to find out more about it, or just go to Flattr directly. It’s basically a micropayment scheme that hides the micropayments from you as if it were a Digg/Reddit liking scheme and is pretty darn clever.

I am pleased to be able to offer free money to the first 100 people who respond to this offer. Email me at dave@evilgeniuschronicles.org and let me know you want the free money, and they will send you a voucher code that will add 4 (that’s Euros, Americans) to your account. This is not a random amount, it’s two even months of their minimum contribution. It would be great if you could throw me a click or two, but it is entirely not compulsory. Do what you want, friends. It’s your money, free and clear. Just be aware it might be a few days because I’m batching together emails. If you don’t get the voucher immediately don’t worry, it’s my fault not theirs.

The one podcast in my listening list that I know is Flattr enabled is Thomas Gideon’s The Command Line. It would be great if you could throw him a click or two as well, but again, your money. Just for fun, I believe I’ll start collecting together a wiki type podcast directory for those who do have Flattr on them. Because of the current state of critical mass it can be a challenge to find stuff to click on, so I’ll see if I can’t help a little with that. I do encourage bloggers and podcasters to sign up and put the badge on your site. Let’s see if we can’t spread some money around to each other.

How to Kludge Together a Flattr based Podcast Payment System

I had a brainstorm tonight on how to hack together a way to automatically pay the podcasters that you listen to. I’m not exactly sure the best way to implement but here is the basic principle. It might have too many moving parts to be feasible but it is interesting to think about.

  1. Both you the listener and the podcaster need to have Flattr accounts and also Last.FM accounts.
  2. The podcaster must create good ID3 tags for artist and unique ones for each episode, so that every single MP3 has one and only URL associated with it at Last.FM.
  3. The listener needs some form of scrobbling software that automatically records their listens into their Last.FM.
  4. The podcaster publishes a new episode of their show. At the same time they do, they submit a Flattr for the URL of the Last.FM on top of whatever other thing they might. I submit the permalink of the blog post but this way I would do both of them for each episode. (Question: Is submitting a Last.FM URL within the terms of use for Flattr? )
  5. Now, with whatever mystical system in the middle, which could be any kind of script or a webservice or an application or even a plugin to the scrobbling application, you map the two things together. Periodically you go out and read your recent scrobbles from Last.FM (or do it at the same time you scrobble) and for each of those URLs you call the Flattr API to find that item and submit a Flattr to it from your account.
  6. Profit!

That’s really all it would take. The rest of it would happen automatically. If any of your podcasts exist, they get a Flattr from you for each episode you listen. You don’t have to remember to go out and Flattr anything, and you can control how much you pay podcasters the same way you do anything on Flattr – you pick your monthly budget and let it ride.

It all makes sense to me. The only question is does the Flattr directlive to “only submit your own items” prohibit you from submitting an Last.FM URL, since that isn’t your site or does it allow it because that URL does actually represent your work? If it does, then gluing up all the stuff in the middle is pretty trivial. The problem is that when you get this down to the set of people that have Flattr accounts for both podcasters and listeners, then also require Last.FM accounts and also engaging the glue in the middle (installing an app or plugin or setting up a webservice) it might get down to such a vanishingly small set of people to be silly. However if this is viable from Flattr policy, I’m willing to set this up. I’ll take automated Flattrs from my nerd listeners gladly. If the proof of concept, uhhm, proves the concept then maybe other podcasters and listeners would be willing to put this money plumbing together.

Flattr and the Drying Pond

I’ve been experimenting with Flattr since May. I started when it was a closed beta that required a waiting list to get approved, and it’s been about 4 months since it went to an open beta. Thus far, my results are … eh. It isn’t ridiculous, but nothing much has happened for me with it. I’ll occasionally get one or two flattrs on a post or podcast. Most get nothing, and the blog as a whole has two. I have done absolutely nothing to goose that, so this is the un-pimped base state.

Clearly, if I wanted more attention from the Flattr community I’d write more posts about Flattr itself (like, uhm, this one.) My biggest problem is that I don’t think the critical mass is anywhere close at this point. There is only one site in my general orbit that is Flattr enabled, which is Thomas Gideon’s Command Line. Generally I give him one flattr every month. I never ever run across any other site in my travels on which I can flattr someone else. Much like any similar project, Flattr suffers from the power law distribution. A very small number of items get a huge number of flattrs while almost all get few or none. It also seems like the German origins of this project shine through in that most of the really big hitter items that get large amounts of attention are in German. Items of English and American origin appear to have an uphill climb to crack that.

At this point, I have run all the way through my initial deposit. I flipped all the income I’ve ever received back into my allocation pool, and will continue doing that. Unless something radically changes in the system, I don’t plan on depositing another chunk of money. I’ll keep flipping my ever shrinking pool of income until the day it runs out and I have no more in there. If the accounts ever zero out, I’m done. I’d love to be surprised with some of my regular sites popping up with Flattr widgets on there so I can give them some money and use it more like a Digg replacement. Until that day, I’m hopeful it takes off but it’s not how I’m betting much money.

Flattr Out of Closed Beta, Open to All

Just yesterday I was trying to see if I could generate Flattr beta invites. I’m a little disappointed in how slow things have been since I joined, both in terms of getting and giving Flattrs to other people. I just don’t see that enough folks using it that I think about doing it on an average day.

Well, today I saw the news that Flattr is out of closed beta and anyone can sign up. I think that’s good news. I think it’s an interesting project but my evaluation of it so far has been skewed by lack of critical mass and the fact that most of the users of it to date seem to be German speakers so I’m not that into most of that. I personally love the “no mental transaction cost” of not deciding how much to pay. Just Flattr the way you’d Digg anything, and the money takes care of itself.

Some of the user pushback I see is from people whose response is “but but … I don’t get to decide how much to pay? Everyone gets the same thing from me that month? Where is my fine-grained control <sputter />.” In my own life, I am doing everything I can to eliminate those large number of decisions I make every day that I just don’t give a shit about. “Give this site $0.03 or $0.05? Is this one $0.17 worthy?” I don’t want to think about any of that.

I’m going to give Flattr more of a shot to determine how useful I find it. Whenever I run out of my first chunk of money, I’ll evaluate whether it seems reasonable to recharge that account. I’m guardedly optimistic. I’d like to see some webcomics people adopt it, I think they might find it more useful and lucrative than Project Wonderful. What can it hurt to try?

Flattr-y Will Get You … Where?

I’m trying an experiment on this blog. I’ve Flattr enabled it via plugins, so now you’ll see those on both the posts and the RSS entries if you read them via Google reader or the like. I’m mostly doing this as to see where the value lies in this project. I don’t expect this blog/podcast will ever pull in significant revenue. I’d consider it a wild success if I broke even on my incoming and outgoing Flattr balance.

Here’s how Flattr works (as I understand it, with my vast 18 hours of experience with it): you put a certain amount of money in your Flattr account, and specify how much you’ll pay out each month. Then as you “Flattr” things through the month, those each get an equal share of whatever your monthly payout is set at. Think of it as Digg but with financial consequences, like Digging a thing means you are paying money to it.

What I do like about this is that you aren’t thinking about an amount as you pull the trigger to micro-pay something. The amount you are paying that recipient can range from the full amount of your monthly (if it’s the one item you Flattr that month) to such a small slice that it is a fraction of a cent. This solves one of the big problems of micropayment systems – the mental cost of valuing the payment vs the item to be paid for. In the Bitpass days, you have to think “Is this webcomic view really worth $0.15 to me” over and over again. If there is one aspect of modern life that is wearing me out, it’s being asked to make decisions over and over, all day every day, that I really don’t give much of a shit about. Instead, youmake two big decisions: 1) how much money to put into Flatter and 2) how much to pay each month Once those are locked in, you don’t think about money again. That’s smart.

The downside at this point is that the project clearly lacks critical mass and density. There are a lot of things I’d be willing to Flattr but thus far I had to really go looking for something to click. If this were more widely distributed, that would be easier. The other downside from an adoption perspective (but probably an upside from a business side) is that nothing happens at all until you’ve put some money in the system. You can’t receive a Flattr until you’ve made one, and you can’t make one until you put money in. Fiendish!

Here’s possible ways I see this playing out, not in any particular order:

  1. The whole thing is a Ponzi scheme and for most people it does nothing but the earliest people in do alright. This is also kind of the way the professional poker world works, as people shift the same money around to each other.
  2. It democratizes content payment, and people who create content for the love of it (like myself and the other podcasters/video bloggers/ et al) can pick up enough pin money to at least get costs covered pretty regularly. Sometimes you feel like you are winning the game when you just stop losing money.
  3. It is a total power law distribution, with the vast majority of items in the system getting 0 Flattrs (and thus no money), and a few getting a huge amount of them and little in between. This already might be happening, particularly with the “Top Flattrs” list in the site’s sidebar that means the rich get richer. This is how bestseller lists and iTunes directories work as well.
  4. It ends up like Digg but better because of the skin one has in the game. When you do capture lightning in the bottle with a post, viral video or something of the sort you end up scoring directly. Some sites already do this, some like You Tube notably do not in any reasonable way. I’m curious if there ever is a “Flattr millionaire” and if so, what the content is that generates it. I fear for the lowness of the common denominator, but I’m in the market to be pleasantly surprised.
  5. Much like all the best performing blogs in the Kindle marketplace are about (any guesses … ) the Kindle, at least now it appears many of the best performing Flattrs are about Flattr. Note that this blog post will be my first in that world too, and I’m curious to see what happens with that. The huge downside of this dynamic is that interesting new projects have incentives from day one to be circle jerks, creating little novel value but playing to the crowd. It’s the Web 2.0 equivalent of “Hello Cleveland! Are you ready to rock?” Pandering gets you everywhere.

I put in 12 Euros, which is 6 months at the lowest monthly payment setting. We’ll see how this goes and evaluate from there. If it seems too whorelike I might dial down the Flattr badge in every post setting, and only add it manually to a subset of them. Also, as of this writing (lunchtime EDT, Monday May 17) I think I have one extra beta invite code. I had signed up on the list for one weeks ago but when they sent me one, they sent two. I think the second code might work for someone else. Email me if you want it ,with the proviso that it’s possible it doesn’t work at all.