There is this saying: nothing is ever free. This is especially true on the internet. At first glance with any search, most things seem to be free but sadly this really isn’t the case. If a service on the internet is free, then you are the product.
“Nothing is ever free. This is especially true on the internet.”
At Antagonist, we write a lot about things that are taken for granted yet come at a real cost to the health of our society. And as a media publisher, never wavering in our high quality production standard means it’s a constant battle to be visible while internet giants grow richer on the backs of you, the reader. Yet we take comfort in the fact that there are other people fighting the good fight publishers and their readers can thrive on the internet once again.
There’s a project we’ve been following for a couple years now, called Brave. It may have the potential to completely transform the way content creation and users’ data on the internet is valued. It finally gives worth to something that is completely unvalued right now: your attention.
But first, let’s take a look at some of the things that are wrong with how the internet works today.
The Internet and Why It’s (Partly) Broken
Back in 2017, The Economist published a story titled, “The World’s Most Valuable Resource is No Longer Oil, but Data.”
This statement seems to be exaggerated at first, but there’s a lot of truth to it. The internet is dominated by just a handful of companies that have proven to be more or less unstoppable. Their weight and power essentially comes from one thing: data.
”In a world where everything is free, ad blockers hurt content creators.“
These companies know almost everything about us and they sell this data and knowledge to sell ad space to advertisers. There are of course ad blockers that many of us use (because who really likes ads?) but as always, there are two sides to this coin:
In a world where everyone is used to everything being free, they severely hurt content creators and publishers who rely on these ads as their main source of income. Also, they only block ads, but you’re still being tracked. Cookies, anyone?
To Block or Not to Block
So far, there are very few options to go around this problem. As a user, you either block all ads and therefore give nothing back to the people who work for the content, or you succumb to the system and be annoyed by all those ads you don’t want to see. As a content creator, you either beg users to disable their ad-blocker or your content becomes invisible to them. Also, you may have heard that with the newest version of iOS, Apple asks all users if they want to block all tracking and of course the vast majority did, 97% actually. It’s completely understandable from a user’s perspective, but a disaster for content creators.
The system is clearly broken:
- The user is bombarded by ads, tracked on every step (click) they take.
- Creators, who work hard to create content that people love, get almost nothing in return.
- All the money that is being made (and it is a lot) is being absorbed by just two ultra powerful companies, namely Google and Facebook.
Think about it like this: You own a beautiful house that you take care of, but you’re depending on renting one of its walls for hanging big posters on it from time to time. Unfortunately there is only one company that has a monopoly on printing these posters. This company also gets 90% of the revenue from using your wall instead of you as the person who takes care of the house and everything around it.
That seems absurd, but that’s how things work right now on the interwebs.
A Rewarding Opt-In
The Brave Browser provides a new way to take back control of your data and its value. As a user, you now have a choice: you can of course just block all ads and all tracking, or you can decide to opt in to the Brave rewards network. Even if you decide to opt in, there is still no tracking and nothing about you is being saved on any server.
If you decide to opt in to the Brave network, you’re rewarded for your attention in the form of a Basic Attention Token. These tokens are being stored within the Browser and you can then spend them however you like. You can directly tip it to creators you want to support, use it to unlock articles, or simply hold onto them and cash out later. As a content creator, this means you now get a new stream of revenue that was not previously available. There are no extra steps required, everything happens directly within the browser and there is not even a login or account needed.
“Let’s create a more inclusive relationship between creator and reader.”
This new system cuts out the middleman and enables a new, more direct and inclusive relationship between creator and reader. In the end, both are in a much better position than before.
I’ve been using Brave for about three years now, and over this time I have collected about 200BAT (which is currently about 100€), for doing something I was already doing anyway—surfing the internet. This is money I can now directly give to websites and projects I want to support. It would have (secretly) gone to another pocket if I was still using Chrome or any other browser. Plus, the browser is also much faster and uses less data and power, because there is no tracking happening in the background.
Antagonist Is Now Brave-Verified
It’s only logical for a platform like Antagonist to embrace this technology, as it’s a potential way out of a couple of dilemmas we face as an ethically-motivated publishing house.
And so we are now part of the Brave rewards network. That doesn’t change anything about how you visit this site, but if you decide to give Brave a try, you can now fund our next oat matcha or a vegan donut 🙂
The project is in its early stages, but it’s growing rapidly and we see a lot of potential in it. Hopefully it can bring some change that is desperately needed.
Bonus: Alongside the browser, Brave has recently launched its own search engine into a public beta phase. It’s completely free of ads and cookies and works without any sort of tracking. In our experience so far, it already works really, really well.
Join us in taking back control over your data and what it’s worth, and your new favorite content provider (ahem) will be happier for it, too.