Everybody be Coil. You... Be Coil
Online advertising is, in my opinion, intrusive, invasive, and, in the case of accessibility, frequently destructive. Yet since it first emerged in 1994, online advertising has been one of the few ways content creators have had to be compensated for their efforts. Until now.
Web Monetization is a proposed standard being incubated at the W3C. It lets browsers securely pay for content, and that in turn enables content creators to choose how to respond - by taking down a paywall, removing advertising, or revealing additional content for example.
Coil is a service that uses Web Monetization to let content consumers pay content creators. You pay a monthly subscription of $5, install the Coil browser extension, and then keep browsing exactly as you always do. Only now something cool, or should that be Coil, happens in the background - whenever you visit a website that has Web Monetization enabled a tiny (really tiny) payment is sent from your browser to the content creator.
To monetize your content you need a digital wallet from a provider that supports the Interledger Protocol, for example Uphold or Gatehub. When your wallet is created it's given a public address known as a payment pointer, so the browser knows where to send payments.
You then use the
meta element to add your payment pointer to your website, like this:
- Code language
<meta name="monetization" content="$ilp.uphold.com/dPdrQinmELyw">
Note: that example uses my payment pointer. You're welcome to use it of course but...
Changing the web
I've had this website since 1998 and I've been creating content here and elsewhere for much of that time. I've never seriously considered making a living from writing; I've been having too much fun with my chosen career for one thing. With Coil and Web Monetization I might be able to make the odd penny or two, but that is not why I decided to monetize this website.
I am under no illusion that writing will ever be a major source of income, in fact if I ever receive enough to cover my own monthly subscription to Coil I'll be a happy person. But I do think that Coil and Web Monetization are at the vanguard of a quiet revolution.
I decided to monetize this website and to become a Coil member because I've had enough of being tracked across the web, had enough of having my personal information bought and sold, had enough of being pestered to buy the washing machine I bought last week or the greatest hits album of a band I once listened to in 2008, and most of all because I've had enough of being bombarded and battered by online advertising.
Like all revolutions this one needs a critical mass to have the most impact. So I hope you will join me and others to make it happen. We Coil?