The surge in tipping activity may be the beginning of a profound change in our culture. I’ll explain why and how I think this is important.
When I first encountered and finally understood Bitcoin on a deep enough level, the one thing about it which excited me the most was its vast potential to facilitate change in our culture. With tipping recently gaining in popularity, we may be witnessing the first such change.
I would argue that information and our ability to efficiently spread it are one of the main factors determining our collective wealth as a society. Consider how things like the printing press or the telephone profoundly changed society by their ability to get more information to more people faster and faster. The next level in this communication explosion is the internet. But here we run into a problem and it is a financial one.
All our previous modes of mass communication (e.g. books, television, news papers, public gatherings) made information flow from one sender to many receivers. In other words they were centralized, mostly because it is costly to maintain a printing press or a TV station. The barrier for entering the business of information distribution is high. This then introduces points of censorship and the quality and variety of information gets greatly reduced to the detriment of us all.
The internet is different from anything else mentioned. For the first time it allows mass communication between many senders and many receivers and the barrier for entry is really low. Here we run into the financial problem:
We have the decentralized computer networks necessary to make all content ubiquitous but so far we have been lacking a matching decentralized way of financing the creation of content.
Enter Bitcoin and tipping. What this means for information content creators is that in addition to a way to efficiently spread their content, there now exists a way for the users of said content to show their appreciation immediately and send currency directly to the content creator. In miniscule amounts like 1cent if so desired.
This represents a direct feedback mechanism, telling content creators how much people value which parts of the information they provide. Content can now be freely available on the internet, with public payment addresses associated with it. After looking up what I want to know I can simply take out my smartphone, scan the address and send a small tip as a way to say thanks. This goes for youtube videos, music, news articles, blogs, reddit posts, comments…EVERYTHING. (On a related note, the absence of effective feedback mechanisms is the biggest reason why our current political and economical systems are showing to be such dismal failures)
So why is this so important?
http://ift.tt/1pMvhH5 Take a look at this URL. This shows the estimated amount of human work hours spent maintaining wikipedia so far (100 million hours) vs. the amount of human hours spent watching TV by US adults in one year (a number 2000 times higher).
Can you imagine what we could create with just 1% of that time? By tipping we give people incentive to stop passively consuming information and become creators of information instead. Be it performing music, or writing quality reddit posts. This is not only heart warming on an individual level but might actually help solve the problem of Technological Unemployment. A firmly established tipping culture of people who are used to paying for content after viewing it may help supplement the income of many people who have trouble finding employment in today’s economy of disappearing jobs. And have fun while doing it.
So let’s keep tipping aspiring artists, charitable endeavors and people who provide great content and make the shift in our cultural operating system happen. Change the culture and politics and business will follow.
TL;DR: Information is wealth. Tipping gives a way for content users to directly send money to content providers for the first time. This is a feedback mechanism telling content creators which content is valued and attracts human resources like time and talent towards the creation of such content. This may help with unemployment and make us all better off in the process.