Flattr and science (blogging)?

Posted August 5th, 2010 by konrad

It looks like Michael Kuhn kick-started the Flattr wave for the science blogging scene. As not everybody knows what this service is – here is a short intro: Flattr is a social micropayment system that makes it very easy to pay content creators like bloggers, podcasters, programmers or photographs little amounts of money just with a click (okay, after a previous registration and money transfer). Your donation (e.g. 5 Euro) is equally shared between all the items you flattred in a month. Especially in Germany Flattr took off in the blogging and podcasting scene – one of the reasons might be Peter Sunde‘s talk at the re:publica 2010 in Berlin. Until now the projects is in a invitation-based closed beta stage. Recently Tim Pritlove – one of the most important podcasters in Germany – roughly measured that there are currently around 26.000+ Flattr users.

Your piece of the cake?What’s about Flattr and science / scientific communication? Until Michael’s tweet I didn’t consider it as an option and embedded Flattr buttons only in my coding related blog. Somehow I had a weird feeling putting them on this science related blog (although this is not the only topic of it). Maybe this was due to my personal understanding that science is not about money. Maybe it was due to the fact that scientist have usually (or do I need to say ideally?) a fixed income and don’t need extra money. What ever it was I guess we should give it also in this field a try. As for the generation of other content Flattr could give new impulses and opportunists for scientific activities and communication. The currency of science is usually attribution not necessarily money. Flattr is a mixture of both. People pay attribution to your work but also are willing to give you a little piece of their resources.

The main application of Flattr in the scholarly field might be to motivate more scientist to communicate their research to the public. And this hopefully without locking content away but making the knowledge a common good by using open licenses. It might be a long way but maybe this service could enable some scientist to become semi-professional communicators of science. I am not sure if it will be a driving force for the communication of scientists to scientists. I also doubt that it can be used to fund (semi)-professional research in the near future. We will see – let’s give it a chance.

Photo by David Goehring.

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