Web Monetization Community

Cover image for New Day — Grant Report #1
Tadej Štrok
Tadej Štrok

Posted on

New Day — Grant Report #1

Image

Alt Text

Project Update

Our project is progressing fairly well. We have been doing a lot of research and planning in order to set up everything needed for the second phase that will focus on launching and marketing the New Day platform. We experienced some challenges regarding the plan and method of technical implementation of the ILP and the decision as to which ledger to use for keeping track of transactions as well as some communication hurdles when it comes to onboarding the publishers and explaining the intricacies of the web monetization standard and its benefits. Therefore we are experiencing slight delays when it comes to our proposed timeline, but still remain confident that execution of the project will remain within the planned deadlines. We are happy to report that we are quite close to a functional prototype as well as plans and designs for the user facing parts of the platform.

Progress on objectives

The goal of our project is to find the best way that WMS can work for independent media outlets and how its value and potential should be communicated to a broad audience in the most effective way.

Objective 1

During the first phase of the project, we have been brainstorming, researching and playing out scenarios related to two areas: technological implementation and financial viability. We want to set up the New Day platform in a way that is scalable, secure and privacy driven but also sustainable, affordable and easy to use for end-users.

Alt Text

Regarding the tech implementation model we have been exploring different ledgers. We have some specific requirements as to how the value of the tokens spent by users should be determined which prevents us from using XRP or similar “fixed-value” tokens (we want to avoid “wasting” tokens similar to how Coil keeps the unspent XRP at the end of the month). At first we planned on using the Ethereum network to issue our own tokens but after testing our technical requirements we realized it would be prohibitively expensive to use the mainnet to mint the necessary tokens. In order to preserve user’s privacy and allow for different users’ tokens to have different values we would effectively need to mint tokens for each individual user. This turns out to be extremely expensive under current gas prices. Hence we decided to prepare a proof of concept based on a private ledger (minting tokens with proof of authority) which allows us to avoid prohibitive financial costs. It’s a trade-off we eventually decided to take since there’s a substantial amount of trust involved in our users’ transactions already when they give us their credit card numbers in order for us to charge them for the service. In the future we’d of course prefer the ledger to be public and distributed, but we decided against that since we are currently unable to find an economically viable solution based on a public, distributed, live ledger.

Regarding the financial model we have been exploring various methods of handling payment transactions, usage tracking and distribution of funds that would meet our economic and legal requirements as well as the overall vision of our organization. We have analyzed the model that Coil uses but decided we would make changes to it - specifically regarding the distribution of “leftover” funds.

The first draft version of our technical design document can be found on our wiki. This draft is subject to change and is already outdated at the time of writing this report, since we will not be using ETH for our proof of concept (see above).

Objective 2

The second main objective that entails the exploration of effective communication practices will come into play in the second phase of the project when we launch the platform and try to raise its awareness via PR and social media marketing practices.

We have, however, started work on the webpage of the project. Attached is a wireframe and logo of the project.

After numerous discussions, focus group sessions and brainstorming, we have identified 3 main unique value propositions around which we want to organize our communication efforts to onboard users and keep them subscribed to our platform. These are:

Technological novelty appeal
We will communicate the benefits of the WMS, why it is different, unique and beneficial to the way the web functions.

Support for independent media
We will highlight the need for funding independent media in Slovenia, which is especially important during the reign of an autocratic regime that constantly attacks the media.

Ideological novelty appeal
We will communicate the benefits of the WMS related to how it can help with the shift of power from large, centralized tech giants, back to the content creators.

Key activities

Main activities in this phase included:

  • Research and brainstorming
  • Developer research and experimentation with ILP (you can see some of our efforts here, however most of our work went into understanding how ILP works so we can now begin implementing our required features: Github
  • Writing of the technical design document
  • Website wireframing and sketching (see here)
  • Visual design of the platform brand guide
  • Publisher outreach, project presentation and interviews

Also see here for a concise overview of our thinking/plans.

Communications and marketing

We have not yet started with the dissemination of the project and the platform. So far we have only had private conversations with relevant stakeholders (media) and local technology/crypto enthusiasts/experts to help us map the landscape we are about to enter.

At the beginning of the project however, we have made a project announcement on our social media pages:

What’s next?

Second phase of the project will focus on production and launch of the platform (website + browser extension).

Website
The user-facing website will be built with Django since it’s what we use most commonly on our other projects. The database associated with it will house user data (PII and payment data). For our first version it will also simulate (serve as) the main ledger to keep track of tokens spent. It will store data on the news sites participating in the pilot project, the tokens they received from the users reading the news. Those tokens will then be exchanged for EUR (we will periodically, at the end of each month “buy” the tokens from the news sites and pay them with the money we charged to users’ credit cards. It will also allow users to cancel their subscription and issue GDPR data requests. The website will be the main public-facing digital property where we will do most of our user onboarding efforts.

Browser extension(s)
These will have to polyfill the WMS api and allow users to spend tokens while reading the news. We have already read through a sizable chunk of Coil’s extension code, but we are still unsure whether we will be able to properly fork the extension or write something simpler based on Coil’s code. We aim to produce extensions for Chrome and Firefox, but it’s possible we will have to contend with just one of them.

The ledger
We will need to set up the ledger where we mint the token and keep track of the transactions. We want this to be very loosely coupled with the website, but the first version probably won’t achieve that goal.

The ILP node
The ILP node is already in the works. The extension will communicate with it and the node will in turn settle transactions with our (at least for now) private ledger.

Technical integration with the publishers will be done with our guidance either by physically meeting the their dev teams or via video conference.

The launch of the project will be accompanied by a PR push. We will organize a press conference, invite the press and communicate the benefits of the platform and the approach we are taking. We will also produce several visually appealing graphics that will help push our USPs to the relevant audience.

At the end of the project we expect to have a fully functional platform and representative group of monthly subscribers through which we will be able to measure our success and progress.

What community support would benefit your project?

At this point, we are not clear how to leverage the international community since this is going to be a local project. Once our code reaches a certain level of maturity we would like to present it to other technically minded grantees in order to gather feedback and ideas for improvements. We are new to this so we expect a lot of our code to be suboptimal. While we would like to prioritize a working MVP, once that is done we would like to nurture the code into something reusable for other projects.

Discussion (2)

Collapse
erikad profile image
Erika

This is a fantastic interim report, Tadej. I appreciate the thought and documentation around the challenge of distributing the “leftover” funds - very interesting.

Collapse
ayeshaware profile image
Ayesha Ware

Hi @tadej reading your report and it's great! Have you attended a community call or would be interested in hosting a skill share or community call on some of the challenges you've been facing?