Three glimpses of the future
Coil is in startup mode, and so is Web Monetization. As an open technology, the API been designed with a minimal amount of functionality to encourage others to innovate and build on top of it. Consequently, almost everything is still up for discussion (including the concept of streaming payments, which as an early reviewer of this paper astutely noted may simply be “a quirk of the current design rather than a necessary component of this imagined future”).
In the prior section, we briefly touched on the changes we can expect as the technology evolves, the user base grows, and an ecosystem develops alongside it. But what might this future look like?
This section proposes to explore just that using three scenarios. Each uses a different business model as a lens to explore the different paths the technology may take, and how the resulting ecosystem might impact the relationship between providers, publishers, and their users.
- Reset the open web - A future where streaming payments remain the primary model, with a few hiccups along the way, powered by a new approach to the role of the browser, and the growth of new audiences and ways of thinking about how we congregate and communicate on the web. (10 min)
- The bundled web - A world where web monetization remains open yet powered by a far more centralized ecosystem inspired by the way we consume other types of media. The resulting inequities prompt hard questions about what content should be considered essential, and available to everyone. (8 min)
- Not your parent’s web - A future where micropayment powered e-gifting is both widespread and native to the web; leading to new relationships between fans and creators, and the evolution of the first Interledger-native currency. (8 min)
These stories aren’t meant to be predictions, nor are they recommendations (you’ll find those in the final section. They sit somewhere at the intersection of a possible, probable, and preferable future, in the hope that describing potential outcomes can help us make better decisions about the web we hope to build.