As we mentioned in Part I of our SXSW Behind the Scenes posts, the first aspect of our SXSW strategy was to “Educate” attendees and participants about Flattr, its benefits and even more broadly about “Rewarding Creators and Crowdfunding“.

To achieve this, we were fortunate enough to have been invited by the SXSW organizers to present as part of their “Late Break” sessions. Obviously we jumped at the chance, and  asked our friends from Makerbot (and their community Thingiverse), Demotix and Readability to join. And although we were not in the main convention center (instead at the Radisson a few blocks away), it was great to see so many people turn up to listen and chat at 11:00 AM on a Saturday morning. (In case you hadn’t guessed, the nights are pretty …”fun” at SXSW, so morning sessions are often far from full!)

To welcome attendees and participants, we had Austin-local busker Ethan providing some tunes with his guitar skills — obviously flattr’able! And with the great mood music to set the stage, we went right into our panel.

Here’s a recap some of the topics we discussed:

Marty from Makerbot, in speaking about Flattr for Thingiverse explained a few times that integrating with Flattr over other “payment” or donation methods was because they really wanted “to be about sharing first”.  Since their integration went live in January, they’re seeing people from their userbase signing up to Flattr expressly “to give to other designers, not necessarily to get money themselves.”

It’s really a relationship and about their community… users are signing up to flattr designs they like, and ending up earning two or three times as much as a ‘side effect’. So really the money that’s given away comes back twice.

Demotix, with more than 4,000 active freelance professional and semi-professional contributing photographers has over 1,000 publishers signed up and recently announced a phenomenal distribution deal with Corbis. It represents over 400,000 new images and adds about 25,000 new images monthly. But since Demotix launched its integration just before the panel, they didn’t have much data to share yet, but discussed that for them Flattr is…

A great way to extend appreciation for contributors, and throw in a tip for the great work.

Finally even though Readability has not implemented Flattr to reward creators (publishers/authors) we know how popular they are and love that they’re doing something in the same vein anyway — And besides, you never know when we figure out the best to work together! In the meantime, Rich simply talked about why they’re doing what they’re doing and how it just made sense for them because it’s what their users wanted.

He also posed a potentially controversial statement, but all of the panellists ended up agreeing, “it’s not that all content online should be worth paying for, because a lot of it is crap”, so a lot of the discussion came back to what was worth while and what was not, but ultimately creating tools to allow “consumers” or users to decide.

Turi recapped this by saying that the next hurdle for the content online is to help users find the good stuff and figure out what’s worth paying for.

And of course I felt compelled to raise one of the basic tenets of Flattr which is that the notion of “consumer” and “producer” in our minds is blurring over time — Perhaps it’s a commentor who is the creator for me, and not the original author of a piece of work. That’s why we built Flattr the way we did, so that anyone can be rewarded by anyone else for anything.

Other great points were picked up and explored by Fast Company in their article “Bloggers, Rejoice: Flattr Uses Social Media to Reward Content Creators” covering the panel and a conversation afterwards with Linus.

But in general there was a lot of discussion around how creating, consuming and paying for content has changed and will continue the change. Rich noted that it’s increasingly a matter of building a relationship between the creator and consumer of content rather than individual transactions.

Linus added that flattring something usually means paying for the next piece of content by the same creator, not the piece of content already read, watched or used. And Marty drew a parallel with wider crowd-funding initiatives such as Kickstarter where ideas that find enough backers are brought to life.

And finally, the moved to the topic of the value of creative content. Linus shared stats from Flattr that indicate pageviews and flattrs are only loosely correlated, which means that most viewed webpages are not necessarily the most valuable. He stated that Flattr has been founded on the belief that content has been commoditised and is free by definition, either via legal or illegal means. This means that fixed price model is now obsolete and the question now is which models will replace that.

The panel concluded that the value chain of content creation, distribution, consumption and interaction has changed a great deal, and it will be up to consumers to show where they think the value lies, and that rewards will probably be distributed accordingly.

Then via audience Q&A, participant after participant thanked all of the panellists for doing what we’re doing. Some other specifics we captured include:

@alexvans asked how each company will sustain itself (or cynically each company’s business model)

@thornburgh asked if people are able to make a living

And if you really want to hear every single last word, the audio from the panel has been posted by SXSW so you can listen to it here:

We hope you enjoy it as much as we did! o/

3 thoughts on “SXSW Behind The Scenes Part 2

  1. “And if you really want to hear every single last word, the audio from the panel has been posted by SXSW ”

    Unfortunately, the audio from the panel available on that page at the moment is truncated (after 38 minutes). As soon as the DMCA is mentioned, it cuts off (conspiracy theories!)

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