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Voluntary Trading

In nearly all cases where you spend money, you're getting something that is worth more to you than the money you spend.  If the money were worth more, you'd keep it.  The folks getting the money you spend feel that the money is worth more than what they're giving you. You can probably find people who will argue with this point, but I recommend that you avoid them, at least until they have some sort of economic epiphany.  Austrian Economics will help.

You're on my list because you're interested enough in what I do to read whatever I'm willing to write to you, and I'm writing it to you because you're valuable to me.  You may have ideas I've never heard and I might really like them.  Maybe you are doing more of the things I want everyone to do just because I made a suggestion here and you found that the suggestion was useful.  You might reply and turn this newsletter into the start of a beautiful friendship..

I was walking around the block like I do nearly every morning, listening to a Liberty Entrepreneurs podcast and it inspired an idea in me.  Ashe Whitener (one of the two founders) was talking about supporting the podcast with donations.  Sometimes, I hear a part of a podcast that I think is really fantastic (the subordinate clause there is intentionally meant to modify both "part" and "podcast" but the link is to pure excellence), and I think it would be nice if the podcast creator could know about my appreciation through some automated system.  If I haven't piqued your interest yet, I'm not sure I'll be able to, but if I have, a description of my idea to make this happen follows below.  I'm sharing it so that if I never implement it, someone else might.  I want it built because I'd use it and it would be awesome, like bitcoin.  Thanks, Satoshi & friends!

General Overview

I propose a website that collects bitcoin for anyone that produces audio or video on the Internet from people who want to support the producers or share information about that piece of media.  Supporters can choose what parts of the media they wish to support, how much support they want to provide, and also a message about that part if they wish.  They will also be able to communicate with others who also supported (any) of the same parts of the media.  The producers of media would be able to see what parts of their production were most valuable to whomever in their audience decided to support them (through the same website), and what they have to say about those parts.  The system is designed so that spamming would be expensive.

Technical Details

The website (domain name suggestions are welcome) allows anyone to purchase attention based on a chunk of a video, podcast, or other piece of fixed-duration non-interactive media.  The website collects the following pieces of information:
  1. The URL of the media.
  2. A "Time Start" marker, or number of seconds into the media playback where the visitor's favored section begins.
  3. A "Time End" marker, where the favored section ends.
  4. A bitcoin address.
  5. Any message the visitor wishes to share with all others who also support any of the same seconds.  Perhaps larger donations should permit larger messages?
  6. The signature of a piece of text that contains the previous items, signed with the bitcoin address.
The website validates the signature and if it's good, it generates a fresh receiving bitcoin address (from an HD wallet), stores all the data (including the new receiving address) except the signature in a database, and provides the receiving address to the visitor. Any bitcoin sent to that address is then used to "support" the seconds (inclusively) between the start and end times. In this way, the database fills with bitcoin addresses that contain bitcoin destined for the owners of the media, assigned to specific parts of the media.

A visitor can also simply log in by signing a login message with the same bitcoin address they used in the process above.  In this case, after validating the signature, the website identifies all entries in the database that overlap those the visitor has supported.  Each overlap is assigned a value which is the bitcoin supporting it times the proportion of the supported section that overlaps the visitor's section(s).  This value is used an ordering metric.  The website then displays the messages stored for each overlap, ordering them by that metric and allows the visitor to respond to each one.  The messages from the most highly supported overlaps are displayed first because of the ordering metric.

Meanwhile, anyone can contact the owner(s) of the media and alert them to the website, and those owners, upon proving to the website owner (me, or whomever) that they own the media, can claim the bitcoin.  Perhaps we will develop a protocol so that the publication of a piece of media on the internet can include a bitcoin address so that no proof would be necessary - the website would just forward the bitcoin to the media owner's bitcoin address.

The website would be able to display a list of media ordered by the total amount of support for each one, and also indicate what parts of each piece of media garnered the most support.  This information would be valuable to the media producers.

I look forward to any thoughts that you have about this idea.  I'm considering the creation of bounties to make such a website.  Are you interested?
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