Orbital Content — The Missing Pieces

In a recent post on A List Apart, Cameron Koczon wrote about what he’s calling Orbital Content— a term he uses to describe how people are using new tools and services (e.g., Instapaper) to collect, consume, and interact with web content they care about.

“The result is a user-controlled collection of content that is free (as in speech), distilled, open, personal, and—most importantly—useful. You do the work to assemble a collection of content from disparate sources, and apps do the work to make those collections useful. These orbital collections will push users to be more self-reliant and applications to be more innovative.”

If you haven’t yet read Orbital Content, you should do so now because the rest of this post assumes you have, plus the article is great (I tipped it)!

TipTheWeb addresses the issues of content attribution, ownership, and monetization which Cameron describes as “looming” over orbital content.

Cameron points out the importance of preserving content ownership and attribution, especially for content being copied.

URLs for Web Content Attribution

Attributing ownership to disparate web content seems like a very large problem to tackle. People are publishing to all sorts of places on the Web, including: YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, GitHub, etc., and to their own hosted websites.

There is one thing all web content does have: a URL

URLs should be used for attribution. Processing the URLs of all the places people publish is messy business, but understanding how to use URLs in combination with APIs and metadata you can accurately and programmatically assign attribution to content. This is why URLs are central to how TipTheWeb relates attribution and ownership of content to the compensation of authors and publishers.

Here’s how a Tip on TipTheWeb connects together a URL, attribution, ownership and compensation for a piece of web content:

Attribution, Ownership, and Compensation of web content with TipTheWeb

Compensating Web Publishers

"Today’s web environment makes it nothing less than a struggle to support content creators. We have unlimited tools for sharing and virtually none for payment."

Cameron’s desire to support the creators of web content is exactly what we are enabling. We’ve felt this pain too, and it’s why we built TipTheWeb.

Compensating the publishers of web content requires the content to first be attributed to the creator, and the content creator lay claim to their content verifying they are, in fact, who should be compensated. For TipTheWeb these are two separate processes that happen at different points in time and use URLs to tie both parts together.

Content attribution happens instantly while someone is making a Tip to some content. Tips are an amount associated with a URL that’s attributed to a site or profile that can be claimed through TipTheWeb.

The reverse side of content attribution, content claiming, works by having web publishers claim the places they publish online in order to receive compensation for their content, which are the Tips that other users are voluntarily giving to support their work. The system to facilitate this claiming and verification process is built on open web technologies, in most cases OAuth, and is usually just two clicks to complete and only has to be done once.

We hope TipTheWeb will be part of the new toolset people use to improve and expand the ways they interact with web content, while also enabling a new monetization model for web publishers.

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