Attention is a Terrible Currency

The internet never had a native currency, so it had to use a surrogate: attention. 🧡

The internet never had a native currency, so it had to use a surrogate: attention.

Due to the lack of a digital native money, we had to use credit (IOUs) to send money electronically. Fraud & chargebacks made micropayments impossible.

Two models evolved:

  1. "You are the product", which uses attention & user data as a currency
  2. "Subscription hell", which uses credit IOUs, which requires full control & KYC, and doesn't allow for micropayments (it's always ~$5 or more, nothing else would be profitable)

You can monetize some services outright: storage and compute are easy examples, because they are scarce. JPGs, however, are not scarce. They can be reproduced at zero marginal cost.

Because reproduction is free, a digital image or a piece of text can't have a market price. It can't emerge, because supply is infinite. I can crush the paywall and distribute it for free. We have to disconnect price from value, and we have to think about both differently.

Bitcoin ⚡ fixes this.

I believe that, in a value-enabled web—a web that does facilitate the free flow of payments, in addition to the free flow of data—new models will emerge that are not bound to selling eyeballs and outrage. We should use money as money, not attention.

Of course, this is already happening. The obvious examples are:

  • Podcasting 2.0, lead by the Podcast Index,1 which allows for value-enabled podcasts.2
  • Stacker News, which uses a slightly different approach: every action has monetary value attached to it, making bots uneconomical.

The thing about monetary value is that it is human action distilled. Many signals can be faked or auto-generated, be it views, downloads, comments, and even content and profiles. In other words: talk is cheap. Sats are not.

This is Day 2 for the Internet.
It's still Day 1 for Bitcoin.
...and Day 0 for the Value-Enabled Web.

A lot of people are trying to solve the conundrum the internet found itself in. Elon wants to fix it. Jack understands these problems deeply and has the right ideas when it comes to fixing them.

Saylor understands that cash money brings real consequences and real cost to cyberspace,3 which is one piece of the puzzle. Daniel understands that we have to get the identity piece right, without having to rely on trusted third parties.

Snowden understands these problems and is on the right track, and like him, I am optimistic that we will be able to fix them.

I’m thankful for the Internet.

One day it will be free and open, edge to edge.

Edward Snowden

Central control doesn't fix this. A new platform doesn't fix this. Protocols do. In addition to using the right protocols, we have to fix the incentives. And for that we have to fix the money.

Bitcoin is fixed money.

Digitally native money—money that is not credit—is a big deal. It is a big deal because infinite velocity of money is a big deal, and the removal of counterparty risk is a big deal. There is a reason why cash is king.

And when it comes to monies, Bitcoin is the king of kings.

  1. Join and chime in! 

  2. Visit to learn more. 

  3. Listen to Saylor on the Bitcoin Matrix. I’d recommend you listen on Breez or Fountain. 

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